13 November 2012
I was presenting the proposal to the Geography Department at Glasgow University last week. Afterwards a Greek colleague came up and told me that the proposal is obvious. While this isn't the sort of thing you like to hear when you have spent time writing a book about a radically new proposal, I know what he meant. It turns of that Theo Kromydas co-wrote the Wikipedia entry on Epicurus, and so I am taking this as evidence that, as all good ideas must, I have backing from an ancient Greek philosopher. The book's subtitle is 'Land, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness', and it seems that this might have been written by Epicurus, whose philosophy was based on the understanding that humans, like all animals, seek pleasure.
According to Kromydas, Epicurus has a sophisticated view of pleasure, which included ethical behaviour. Bodily pleasure that causes intellectual or moral distress is not the sort of pleasure we should be seeking. His definition of happiness is a mind free from disturbance and a body free from pain, a state he referred to as 'ataraxia'. One of the points I make most strongly in my book is that, while fossil-fuelled capitalism has produced a bewildering array of material products, it has not brought us peaceful minds and hence cannot claim to have achieved happiness even in the Western countries.
I will be launching the book in the Convent Parlour at Roehampton University on 12 December at 5pm. Since my lucky number is 12 I could not have a more auspicious day. If you can help me publicise the book either by organising a local meeting or writing a review for a publication or online outlet please get in touch. My esteemed corporate publisher is also offering a fairly hefty discount on the book until 14 December, so an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.