From time to time, members of the Epicurean groups online ask questions like: “Wonder why Stoicism has such a wide appeal to moderns, where Epicureanism has languished somewhat?” … which often elicits some Epicureans citing this quote to justify their unwillingness to market the philosophy as it deserves:
I have never wished to cater to the crowd; for what I know they do not approve, and what they approve I do not know. – Epicurus
It’s a fair argument, I suppose, but I always wonder to what extent this device is meant as a way to mask a sense of defeat, or a refusal to admit that we have failed, in some important way, to promote a philosophy that would greatly benefit modern society.
Recently, a friend and contributor to The Epicurus Blog decided that he will create an Epicurus-friendly podcast. I will announce more on this as more information becomes available. In the meantime, here are seven reasons why I strongly feel that we need more Epicurean content creators:
1. Many of the old bloggers hardly create any content, and some have died. If you look at SoFE’s links page, you’ll find that Mark Walker’s The Epicurus Project posts an average of one blog per year, and the Menoeceus blog posted nothing last year. Worse yet, Jakko posted his good-bye blog in 2013 shortly before his death, and fortunately someone kept a copy of epicurus.info online in memory of Eric Anderson upon his death (when his page went offline for some time) … which made some of us concerned about who will continue our work when we’re gone. I can only conclude that a stronger network of collaborating Epicurean content creators is needed.
2. There are only two specifically-Epicurean YouTube channels that I’m aware of, and no Epicurean podcasts as of today. This would give us greater access to commuters and other audiences we have yet to reach.
3. There are some incentives for content creation available. It may produce a bit of income, may be treated as a business or a side hustle, and may even be a worthwhile experiment in autarchy. I will delve more into this in a future blog about affiliate marketing.
4. Many of the academic sources and interpreters of Epicurean philosophy are either indirect or hostile, and some online platforms have niches with similar attitudes. The subreddits /atheism and /philosophy have at times removed Epicurean content arbitrarily, rather than allow for an open market of ideas–sometimes relenting only after some level of activism on our part. Martha Nussbaum–one of the main contemporary interpreters of Epicurean sources in academia–has been notorious in her anti-Epicurean bias. She has said that Stoics and Aristotelians are superior to the Epicureans–whom she described as “parasitic” on the rest of the world–, that Seneca was “an advance of major proportions” over the Epicureans, and has even claimed that Epicureanism is not a philosophy. This all points to a need to have more people presenting EP on its own terms, both in our own niches and elsewhere.
5. Most Epicureans today exist in the non-academic world, and we must therefore rely on publishing platforms that have no academic or institutional support. There is almost no financial support available for the spread of Epicurean ideas (I have only one Patreon subscriber), and no non-profit organizations doing the educational work in the English-speaking world. Michel Onfray started the Université de Caen (and single-handedly published hundreds of books) to address this very problem in the French speaking world, but similar movements do not exist in the English- or Spanish-speaking worlds. As a result of this, one can hardly speak of there being an Epicurean intellectual movement in the world today.
6. Many of the noble initiatives that Epicureans have gotten involved in–like the Declaration of Pallini, which seeks to have the “right to happiness” recognized for all European citizens–would benefit from a greater audience and support.
7. The world needs Epicurean teachings. While there is much critique and pontificating around the problem of consumerism and limitless desires, and this has created alternatives like the minimalism/frugality and the tiny house movements, few intellectual traditions are positioned to provide people with the methods and theories to help them do the introspective work needed to become conscious consumers. Epicurean ethics’ curriculum of control of desires does this without falling into ascetic errors. In fact, our ethics have the potential to really help members of contemporary society to deal pragmatically with existential and economic problems like debt, anxiety, consumerism, isolation, lack of meaning, etc.
Even if you have little to no money to invest, you can start vlogging for free on YouTube, or create a free blog on WordPress, which is the most user-friendly blogging platform and easiest to learn. For more professional “dot com” websites, you may use GoDaddy or Bluehost. There is no shortage of YouTube videos and online educational sources that teach how easy it is to create professional websites with these services.
If we love philosophy, we should confer upon philosophy the kind of dignity that it confers upon us. If you love Epicurean teachings, please consider getting involved in content creation projects!