10/03/2009

cosmology and lifestyle

The fragments of Epicure's teaching fall into two apparently disconnected parts: One is about a cosmology based on the idea of the cosmos being a byproduct of random processes, where the buildup of structures is kickstarted by some small pertubance. The other, ethical, part is about how to live a satisfactory life, based on managing the emotions of fun and pain. The connection between both parts is usually thought as cosmology being just a kind of selfhypnosis for enabeling the students to follow the ethical part by calming the impulses from desire. I wonder if the connection could have been a bit deeper, because Epicure could have visualized fun and pain as the trays of an equilibrium balance and the random cosmos as randomly distributed unit-weights on them. Then he could have used the contraintuitive behaviour of such simple random walks, described e.g. in Feller's „An introduction to probability theory and its applications“, for teaching and applying his ethics. Perhaps there exist modern analoga to such a cosmology-lifestyle connection, e.g. as computer science-lifestyle ?