Welcome to episode 156, a special two-part Episode of Lucretius Today. This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who wrote “On The Nature of Things,” the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world. Each week we walk you through the Epicurean texts, and we discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. If you too find the Epicurean worldview attractive, we invite you to join us in the study of Epicurus at EpicureanFriends.com, where you will find a discussion thread for each of our podcast episodes and many other topics.Today we are very pleased to bring you an interview with a special guest: Dr. Emily Austin, professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University.
Dr. Austin is author of the book “Living for Pleasure: an Epicurean Guide to Life,” which was published in November 2022 by the Oxford University Press as part of its Guides to the Good Life Series. Dr. Austin graduated summa cum laude in philosophy from Hendrix College in Arkansas, and she received her doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009. Since that time, she has been teaching philosophy at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Austin applies both her academic credentials and her teaching skills to the task of showing how Epicurean philosophy differs sharply from Stoicism, and how it stands for a truly positive approach to life that isn’t grounded in asceticism, but in a complete understanding of the central and uncompromising appreciation of “Pleasure” in the pursuit of happiness.
03:02 – Can you tell us about yourself Dr Austin?
04:01 – What caused you to be interested in Epicurus, and how did you come to write your book.
09:40 – What are the main points of Epicurean philosophy and how does it differ from Stoicism?
19:15 – How do you deal with the objection that “pleasure” cannot be the full goal of life?
28:00 — What is the role of one’s view of “death” in Epicurean philosophy?
39:45 — Some people see a tension between pursuit of pleasure as opposed to pursuit of tranquility. How do you reconcile that question and summarize the issue of how much pleasure is enough? Was Epicurus an ascetic?