The Poem on Nature
EPUB EBook by Titus Lucretius Carus
EBook DescriptionAtoms or Order?Lucretius says that nothing exists but “atoms and the void”—matter and empty space. The Poem on Nature EPUB EBook Into the God- EPUBintoxicated world came an ancient voice that stated with calm authority that there are no gods and there are no souls.“Leave all foolishness behind and devote your study to the way things are.” In “The Way Things Are” (55 B.C.E.), Lucretius argues, in Epicurean verse,his case for rationalism and his case against faith, but he does so without excessive resort to bullying, ridicule, or cheap shots.Here are some of Lucretius’ main points in his own words.
Fear is the enemy to logical thought.
How many fantasies they invent to overturn your sense of logic, muddle your mind by fear! If we ever saw a limit to our troubles, we’d be strong, resisters of religion, rant and cant, but as things are, we have no chance with all their everlasting punishments waiting us after death. As children tremble and fear everything in the dark shadows, we adults, in daylight, fear things that really are not one bit more awful that what poor babies shudder at in darkness.
Replace fear with rationalism.
Our terrors and our darkness of mind must be dispelled, not by the sunshine’s rays but by insight into nature and a scheme of systematic contemplation.Our starting point shall be this principle: Nothing at all is ever born from god’s will. Our minds are frightened because we see many events whose causes are to us impossible to understand; download; so, we suppose, the gods’ will is the reason.Once we have seen that nothing comes from nothing, we shall perceive with greater clarity what we are looking for, whence each thing comes, how things are caused, and no “gods’ will” about it.
Conquer fear of death.
Listen! The voice of Nature is scolding us: “What ails you? Why this excess of self-indulgent grief? Why weep and groan at death? If you have any sense of gratitude for a good life, why not take your leave as men go from a banquet, fed to the full on life’s good feast, come home, and lie at ease, free from anxiety?Poor fool! If life is only wretchedness, why try to add more to it? Why not make a decent end?”
Conquer fear of hell.
The fear of hell must be dismissed. This fear troubles the life of man, stains everything with death’s black darkness; it drives a man to violate honor, or to break the bonds of friendship, and overthrow all decency. Men have betrayed their country or their parents, desperate to avoid the realms of Acheron [river of Hell].
The soul is not separate from the body.
I maintain that mind and spirit are held close together, compose one unit.But the lord and master holding dominion over all the body is “understanding”– in our terms, “mind” or “intelligence,” and this resides in the region of the heart [i.e., brain].
Just as you see when jars are broken, their wine flows in all directions, as steam or smoke dissolves in the stir of air, believe that spirit also is diffused, is quick to perish once it leaves the limbs of man.Trees cannot root in sky, nor clouds exist in deep sea-water, fish can’t live in fields, nor blood in cords of wood, nor sap in rocks.There is an everlasting fixed assignment, a station set for being and growth.So “brain” can have no origin apart from body, no independent nature, no existence out of the area of blood and sinew. When the body dies, Spirit, you must agree, is just as dead.
We walk at ground zero of the Great Conversation. Two currents run side by side in philosophy: one naturalistic; the other mystical. The mystical stemmed from Pythagoras and ran though Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato, and Cleanthes to Plotinus and St. Paul; the naturalistic through Thales, Anaximander, Xenophanes, Protagoras, Hippocrates, Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius.
Atoms or order? Has Lucretius convinced us of the certainty of materialism? Were we already convinced? Do we have enough information? Do we have the proper perspective? Are we confident of anything other than our own ignorance? Montaigne said,“nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known.” I like to listen to different voices on this issue, though admittedly—I prefer the gentle ones.
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