Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Catherine Wilson

Catherine Wilson is the author of How To Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well.

From the author's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you first become interested in Epicureanism, and at what point did you decide to write your new book?

A: My main field of expertise is 17th and 18th century history and philosophy of science—quite remote, you might think, from ancient philosophy and certainly from self-help!

But the Epicureans, who theorized that the world was composed of atoms and void, were the most scientifically sophisticated of all the ancient philosophical schools, so I gravitated towards their writings.

I was mainly interested, from the early 1980s onwards, in the theme of subvisible reality in the Scientific Revolution, and I wrote several books and many articles on that topic.

Then, in 2003 I published a book on moral and political philosophy Moral Animals, laying out some ideas about how morality works (or should work) from a naturalistic perspective.

When I started writing specifically about Epicureanism, there was already a solid literature on Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, and their relation to 17th century philosophy. Epicureanism was I think considered a fringe philosophy by early modern scholars.

For one thing, it was atheistic and mortalistic, and every philosopher in the 17th century put God and the immortality of the soul right in the middle of their theories. When I argued that these references weren’t always to be taken at face value, I...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue