This week I learned about a new pro-Epicurean book that I highly recommend: Stuart Pickering’s “Epicurus for Everyone.” Mr. Pickering lives in Australia, and recently (2011) made his new book available for $4.99 at the “WritersandEbooks.com” website.
Other than Stefan Streitferdt’s “From Pain To Pleasure: The Proven Pathway to Happiness”, I am not aware of another recent release prepared by someone sympathetic to Epicureanism for the purpose of explaining the practical side of the philosophy to newcomers. Studies in comparative philosophy can be helpful, but there is no substitute for focusing on Epicurus himself. As I always urge the readers of this blog to consider working on themselves, it is essential that we not only talk among ourselves but also generate new works like Epicurus for Everyone and From Pain To Pleasure. Facebook and social media are excellent tools, but unless we study the details of Epicureanism and learn to articulate it for ourselves, we fail to follow the example — and the instruction — of Epicurus and Lucretius. The reward, of course, is not only the happiness that come from the gathering of wisdom, but also the pleasure of the new friendships that result as we introduce Epicurus to a new generation.
As did Stefan, Stuart has chosen to focus on the practical side of Epicureanism that is naturally of interest to modern readers. Stuart’s chapters are divided into sections entitled “Understanding the Universe,” “Pleasure and Happiness,” Friendship and Community,” “Life and Death,” and “Personal and Social Transformation. Each section contains four short essays relevant to each topic, and the whole is followed by an extensive “Notes” and “Bibliography” section.
I believe you will agree with me that Stuart’s book is very well researched and provides a significant level of detail on each of his topics. Stuart has produced Epicurus for Everyone after extensive research into Greek philosophy, and in addition to the material included in the book he maintains a blog at PhilosophicalGarden.com where he writes on the Greek philosophical tradition. Stuart tells me that he will soon enable the “comments” feature on his blog, and he invites readers to provide input and ask questions as desired.
Here is additional background information on Stuart:
Stuart Pickering is a Sydney-based author, researcher, editor and publisher. He has a special interest in exploring the history of ideas and identifying aspects of practical relevance for addressing modern global challenges.
The author’s approach to examining Epicurean questions reflects his background and interests in historical, literary and textual studies. For many years he undertook research at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) in Greek and Latin papyri and the papyrus documentation of Christianity, and he developed a specialized interest in New Testament textual transmission. In recent years as an independent researcher and writer he has focused increasingly on matters connected with belief and the environment. He has explored these themes in blog entries on a variety of subjects, including the meaning and significance of the Golden Rule, at beliefandenvironment.wordpress.com, and with reference to the Greek philosophical tradition at www.philosophicalgarden.com. He is convinced of the need to focus on Epicurean philosophy as a system of thought of outstanding value for addressing modern social, cultural and environmental dilemmas. Although not formally trained in philosophy, he feels an obligation to draw attention to the philosophical challenges of Epicurean thought, and he seeks to present ideas in such a way that specialists and non-specialists alike may be encouraged to engage with the issues and evidence. He regards historical perspective as vitally important for understanding ancient and modern thought, and emphasizes the need for sound method in analyzing evidence and arguments. His experience in studying ancient Greek and Latin texts and textual transmission enables him to deal directly with the preserved writings of Epicurus, Lucretius and other authors in the Epicurean tradition. He is planning to follow up Epicurus for Everyone with further collections of essays, which will give an opportunity to engage with readers’ comments and will expand on the range of topics covered. The aim is to promote the understanding of Epicurean ideas and ideals and to demonstrate their practical relevance for everyone today.
I read the entire book this past week and I can assure you that the text is of high quality and well worth your investment in time. It does not appear that the book is available yet in EPUB format, but I had no trouble in purchasing the PDF version (a very reasonable $4.99) and downloading it from the “WritersandEbooks.com” website.
In the future I will post further on “Epicurus for Everyone,” and given Stuart’s research and writing skill I would urge all readers of this blog to encourage him toward future work by purchasing the book and providing feedback. In closing, here is additional info from the WritersandEbooks.com website:
Epicurus for Everyone is a collection of twenty-four short essays on the practical relevance of Epicurean philosophy.
No. of pages: 82
Paperback: AUD$16.95 plus delivery
The Greek philosopher Epicurus, over 2,000 years ago, developed a philosophy of life that still has relevance today. Epicurus emphasised the need for honest and open enquiry into the nature of the universe and the conditions for human happiness.
He argued that we need to learn practical wisdom so that we can make the most of this present life, without worrying about imagined deities and hoping for an afterlife that will never come. Understanding the role of pleasure and pain in life, and making wise choices, we can enjoy the good things which nature so abundantly supplies, avoid the sorts of difficulties that arise through wanting too much, and cultivate satisfying friendships that form a necessary part of personal contentment and social well-being.
In twenty-four short essays, Epicurus for Everyone introduces the reader to Epicurus and his philosophy, and examines Epicurean approaches to understanding the universe; pleasure and happiness; friendship and community; life and death; and personal and social transformation. The essays illustrate ways in which Epicurean thought can guide us to a soundly based and responsible philosophy of life, help us to address issues that confront us as individuals and as communities, including the threat of environmental catastrophe, and offer us new hope for the future