Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Epicurus - Intellectual Courage and Fortitude

For me Epicurus is a giant of intellectual courage and fortitude because he is like a man in a dark cave or a dark room with just a little light. And with that little light (with its shadows dancing on the wall and the mystery that ignites monsters and ghosts in the minds of the human animal) Epicurus would not be moved with the superstition of the darkness or the lack of scientific knowledge in his age. He had the intellectual courage to smile at the gods of man's imagination and their superstitious fears even with darkness and mystery all around him.
Meanwhile the modern human stands on the shoulders of the Scientific lights of knowledge like Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Einstein and others and still the majority hides from death and jumps at superstitious noises coming from other primates. The modern human sits in a rather bright room of knowledge in comparison to Epicurus. With only a few closet spaces and corners of darkness of the unknown, modern man still fills those mysterious spaces with the likes of goblins, gods, and sophomoric superstitions. Is it too much to suspend judgement my mortal brothers and sisters where there is still mystery?
If Epicurus, Diogenes, and Lucretius can have that kind of courage in a metaphorical dark room how much more should Modern Man in a bright room? Perhaps it is too bright? Too much information? Has modern man been overwhelmed with the increasing knowledge? Are people trapped in a closet and have they not been exposed to the bright fires of knowledge through the ages? The flame may brighten the room but is it burning the foundations of human justification and meaning? Is a dark cave of Plato's shadows much safer than the bright light outside the cave? Staring at the Sun for too long can be dangerous. Is the exposure too much for an animal that wants absolute certainty and eternal life in a Universe that can give neither? Lack of knowledge demands courage but so does the increase of knowledge. The courage to not know and the courage to know.

“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 (341—271 B.C.E.)

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