Letters on Epicurus: A Dialogue about Happiness

2012-03-16

It was exactly six months ago that I finished my Epicurus translations. I thought by now I'd have completed at least the first draft of a short book entitled Epicurus on Happiness. However, that project has stalled. Yes, I've been awfully busy in my work, but that's not the only reason. In fact I made quite a bit of progress on the manuscript before the end of the year. Yet somehow it just wasn't coming together, and now I think I know why: the philosophy of Epicurus is a warm, friendly philosophy, and it deserves a warm, friendly exposition. Epicurus himself summarized various aspects of his ideas in letters to friends (his missives to Menoeceus on ethics, Pythocles on astronomy, and Herodotus on physics still survive -- something we sadly can't say of his longer treatises). So now I'm thinking about setting forth his views on happiness and ethics through a series of letters between two friends. I've long wanted to explore alternative literary forms like philosophical dialogue, and an exchange of letters feels like the right way to present Epicurus. One intriguing aspect of this approach is that the friends could start at the surface of Epicurean philosophy and slowly delve deeper. In addition, I'll be able to show the friends struggling with how to apply these ideas in the modern world. I rather like the idea and might start working on the project soon. I suppose that, in this age of Twitter and YouTube, an exchange of letters might seem positively medieval; but so be it!

UPDATE (2012-07-07): I've finished the first draft! Although it needs polishing, so far I like it.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal