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#495147 - 03/08/14 03:31 PM Satanism and Epicureanism
LaughOfSatan Offline

Registered: 08/24/07
Posts: 8
I've been wondering about the similarities and differences between the philosophy of Satanism as set forth by Anton LaVey, and the philosophy of Epicureanism as laid out by Epicurus.

I know that Peter Gilmore has stated that Satanism has its roots in Epicureanism. From what I've seen there are certain parallels as well as differences:

For the commonalities:

- Both Satanism and Epicureanism are based on a long-range rational hedonism (not excessive self-indulgence). Both are based on the self-interest and happiness of the individual and reject martyrdom. Both glorify the flesh. Both recommend prudence and reject folly (=stupidity). Both eschew faith in an afterlife in favor of the here-and-now. Both have a contractarian view of justice/ethics.

For the differences I've seen:

- Classical Epicureanism seems more ambivalent about sex, with Epicurus stating that it's often not worth the pain it causes (later authors such as Lucretius are more accepting about the physical pleasure from sex, while remaining wary about the dangers of emotional pain from out of control passion). LaVey seems on the whole more sex-positive, while also allowing celibacy as a valid choice.

- Satanism seems less ascetic than classical Epicureanism, which focused on simple pleasures - Satanism tends to allow for more extravagant indulgences.

- Satanism seems to have a more Machiavellian ethic, exploiting others for personal gain is seen as a viable option. In Epicurus this is seen as leading to emotional disturbance and loss of peace of mind (due to fear of the possibility of retribution).

- While Epicureanism is strictly apolitical (in the sense of not being concerned about actively getting engaged in improving the State/polis), Satanism often tends towards Right-Libertarian politics with a social Darwinist flavor.

- Achievement and excellence has a stronger role to play in Satanism - these are eschewed in Epicureanism when they conflict with inner peace.

- Satanism seems more elitist, Epicureanism more egalitarian.

- Satanism tends to glorify revenge, and while Epicureanism allows for punishing others, it does not endorse doing so for emotional gratification.

Are there any other important parallels, as well as differences? I love Hellenistic philosophy and Epicurus in particular, although it does seem to have some more objectionable content, I think there's a lot of undefiled wisdom (to borrow a phrase) to be gained from the classics.

#495148 - 03/08/14 04:56 PM Re: Satanism and Epicureanism [Re: LaughOfSatan]
LaughOfSatan Offline

Registered: 08/24/07
Posts: 8
Incidentally, the Catholic Encyclopedia contains this revealing vitriol against Epicureanism:

"Such a view of life is the meanest form of selfishness leading in general to vice... If sincerely embraced and consistently carried out, it undermined all that was chivalrous and heroic, and even all that was ordinarily virtuous... The whole philosophy may well be described in a trenchant phrase of Macaulay as 'the silliest and meanest of all systems of natural and moral philosophy'."


#495149 - 03/08/14 05:57 PM Re: Satanism and Epicureanism [Re: LaughOfSatan]
Citizen_Horror Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 03/31/12
Posts: 248
Loc: Arizona
High Magus Gilmore was correct, Satanism does have its roots in Epicureanism. And yes, Lavey did borrow many elements of Epicureanism in the Satanic philosophy. One note of interest, however, is that Lavey borrowed from many different philosophies and religions when constructing the Satanic philosophy. After all, if Satanism was strictly Epicurean and did not vary from the philosophy at all, it would not be Satanism, it would be Epicureanism (albeit in a new package).

I love Hellenistic philosophy and Epicurus in particular, although it does seem to have some more objectionable content, I think there's a lot of undefiled wisdom (to borrow a phrase) to be gained from the classics.

I think that's true. There are always many treasures to be gleaned from philosophies of the past. Personally, I don't think Doktor Lavey meant to cull all of the good parts out of Epicureanism and throw the rest to the dogs; I think he selected a few fundamentals and modified them into a philosophy that would be relevant and useful. As Satanism is comprised of so many different ideas, it is likely--if not inevitable--that certain equally excellent ideas failed to make the final cut.

Please note that I am not an expert on Satanism or Epicureanism by any means; posts by other members will provide a clearer answer.

#495150 - 03/08/14 06:35 PM Re: Satanism and Epicureanism [Re: Citizen_Horror]
LaughOfSatan Offline

Registered: 08/24/07
Posts: 8
Much of the Epicurean influence seems to have come from Ayn Rand, from my understanding, along with the political leanings which clearly resonate with Herbert Spencer's social Darwinism, as taken to further extremes by Ragnar Redbeard.

Incidentally the concept "Might is Right", from Redbeard, Nietzsche, and Machiavelli, seems to have its earliest complete expression in the ancient sophist Callicles, a contemporary of Socrates and his dialectical antagonist in Plato's dialogue "Gorgias" (where Plato uses Socrates as his mouthpiece to profess proto-Christian ideals in opposition to Callicles).

I'm more interested in the specifically Epicurean parallels and differences, however.


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