One of my long term projects is Epicurus House, based on Epicurus philosophy. I envision it as a cross between ideas incubator and a zen garden with the focus on advancing civilization ( rather than mere reflection ). So what is Epicurus philosophy? from http://thephilosophersmail.com/perspective/the-great-philosophers-3-epicurus/
..Epicurus made three important innovations:
- Firstly, he decided that he would live together with friends. Enough of seeing them only now and then. He bought a modestly priced plot of land outside of Athens and built a place where he and his friends could live side by side on a permanent basis. Everyone had their rooms, and there were common areas downstairs and in the grounds. That way, the residents would always be surrounded by people who shared their outlooks, were entertaining and kind. Children were looked after in rota. Everyone ate together. One could chat in the corridors late at night. It was the world’s first proper commune.
- Secondly, everyone in the commune stopped working for other people. They accepted cuts in their income in return for being able to focus on fulfilling work. Some of Epicurus’s friends devoted themselves to farming, others to cooking, a few to making furniture and art. They had far less money, but ample intrinsic satisfaction.
- And thirdly, Epicurus and his friends devoted themselves to finding calm through rational analysis and insight. They spent periods of every day reflecting on their anxieties, improving their understanding of their psyches and mastering the great questions of philosophy.
Even today, Epicurus remains an indispensable guide to life in advanced consumer capitalist societies because advertising – on which this system is based – functions on cleverly muddling people up about what they think they need to be happy.
An extraordinary number of adverts focus on the three very things that Epicurus identified as false lures of happiness: romantic love, professional status and luxury.
Adverts wouldn’t work as well as they do if they didn’t operate with an accurate sense of what our real needs are. Yet while they excite us by evoking them, they refuse to quench them properly. Beer ads will show us groups of friends hugging – but only sell us alcohol (that we might end up drinking alone). Fancy watch ads will show us high-status professionals walking purposefully to the office, but won’t know how to answer the desire for intrinsically satisfying work. And adverts for tropical beaches may titillate us with their serenity, but can’t – on their own – deliver the true calm we crave
Epicurus invites us to change our understanding of ourselves and to alter society accordingly. We mustn’t exhaust ourselves and the planet in a race for things that wouldn’t possibly satisfy us even if we got them. We need a return to philosophy and a lot more seriousness about the business of being happy.
In terms of 21st century context I envision the house as a place for digital nomads who are interested in art and technology, a co-working and co-living space without for-profit agenda and providing a refuge from the financialization of thought.
A place for people who see themselves as lifelong learners and philosophers without the title, also a place for people who do not see value in owning expensive furniture or cars but see value in conversation and exchanging ideas for advancing civilization.
I see the house as a temporary or long-terms pit stop rather than a permanent dig. Unlike a hotel or an airbnb - the only currency would be courteous conversation and friendly attitude, and common goal of advancing civilization. With the only constant being the values of the people who reside in it.