Action Of Seeing Explained

Connection to the Philosopher Lucretius

The text located on the wood back of the work was taken from the text, Lucretius On The Nature Of Things, a six book poem written by Titus Lucretius Carus (died c. 50 BC) who was an Epicurean poet writing in the middle years of the first century BC. This part of the text is from book four in which Lucretius focuses on the phenomena of the soul. The following information from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophygives a good overview of the entire work:

Whether or not the poem is altogether in the finished state that Lucretius would have wanted, its six-book structure is itself clearly a carefully planned one. It falls into three matching pairs of books:
  1. The permanent constituents of the universe: atoms and void
  2. How atoms explain phenomena
  3. The nature and mortality of the soul
  4. Phenomena of the soul
  5. The cosmos and its mortality
  6. Cosmic phenomena

The sequence is one of ascending scale: the first pair of books deals with the microscopic world of atoms, the second with human beings, the third with the cosmos as a whole. Within each pair of books, the first explains the basic nature of the entity or entities in question, the second goes on to examine a range of individual phenomena associated with them. A further symmetry lies in the theme of mortality, treated by the odd-numbered books. Book I stresses from the outset the indestructibility of the basic elements, while books III and V in pointed contrast give matching prominence to the perishability and transience of, respectively, the soul and the cosmos.

In addition to this division into three matching pairs of books, the poem can also be seen as constituted by two balanced halves, orchestrated by the themes of life and death. It opens with a hymn to Venus as the force inspiring birth and life. The first half closes, at the end of III, with Lucretius' long and eloquent denunciation of the fear of death. And the poem as a whole returns at its close to the theme of death, with the disquieting passage on the frightful Athenian plague during the Peloponnesian War: whether or not this, as we have it, is in its finished form, there can be little doubt that the placing of its theme itself somehow represents the author's own orchestration.

Other Lucretius links:
Complete text of book IV: http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2242&chapter=211226&layout=html&Itemid=27

Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. 341–c. 270 BC), founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia) through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires. The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from "hedonism" as it is commonly understood. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism)


Information about text attached to the work