May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Roskam’s Live Unnoticed (that’s λάθε βιῶσας to you) is scholarly — i.e. not interested in the doctrine as a tool for life, but in the doctrine as it was, or may have been, its origins and later fate. It meticulously traces the history of an idea — but doesn’t seem to care a whit for the idea itself.
(Scholars aren’t philosophers. But give scholars a break: by and large, even philosophers aren’t philosophers).
Roskam’s interpretation starts with the assumption that everything ever issued from the lips of The Great Man had to be based on the strict hedonistic calculus (the philosophers’ quest being a kind of dumb calculator). And therefore, he argues, Epicurus probably didn’t dispute the pleasures stemming from fame, status and power, but merely suggested that the security of a low-profile life on balance yielded more pleasure than did the public life of success.
Or, maybe The Great Man really did not feel any pleasure in status and power.
Hard as it is for an ambitious scholar to imagine, such people do exist, and some of them even bear the name of “scholars” — though the word in classical Chinese context means something else than it does in modern Europe — dictionaries of prominent Ming and Qing figures are full of successful men retiring to small islands to raise storks. (And many more, mostly liars, I imagine, saying they want to).