Epicureanism

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Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 10:31 am
Hi, i'm trying to learn about Epicureanism or, what Epicurus taught but everything i've came across on the net or books hasn't offered a down to earth description of his teachings. If someone could please tell me what he taught, in laymen's terms, regarding the following topics, I would greatly appreciate it. Very Happy

God
Meaning of Life and the search for it
Morals/Ethics/what they're based on
Death
How to be happy
Dealing with sadness/pain/anger/etc
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 11:12 am
@Greenstone,
God & Death
Epicurus believed there were Gods but they did not interfere with Human affairs, one of the key tennets of Epicureanism was that one should not fear death or the Gods. And one of the keys to happiness was not to fear death 'Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not..' (Letter to Menoeceus) Though Epicurus is often cited as the first Atheist, this is not strictly true though he was certain hostile to the Gods, some feel he may have not proclaimed his disbelieve in the Gods, in order to avoid the same fate as Socrates. On his last day of his life he wrote 'On this truly happy day of my life, as I am on the point of death, I write to you. The diseases in my bladder and stomach are pursuing their couse, lacking nothing of their usual severity: but against all this is the joy in my heart at the recollection of my conversations with you'

How to be Happy
Epicurus said that discomfort was to be avoided, but he was no hedonist in the modern sense, though according to Aristippus who is one of the people who is responsible for a lot of our knowledge of Epicurus that discomfort should be avoided because personal pleasure was the ultimate good, so the aim of life should be aim to maximize it. Though Epicurus did not call for the unbridled chase of pleasure and developed what some have called 'Hangover theory' 'No pleasure is in itself evil, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail annoyances many times greater than the pleasures themselves'. Epicurus was suspicious of sexual passion & love as he had seen that it could cause people great diespair, preffering friendship rating it the greatest pleasure one could enjoy 'Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.' though it should be noticed he didnt prevent his followers from engaging in sexual relationships or entering relationships.
 
Greenstone
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 11:22 am
@RDanneskjld,
thanks alot for your response. what did he say about what he felt the meaning of life was?
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 12:27 pm
@Greenstone,
When he denied sexual pleasure i lost interest.Like all philosophies we select what we appreciate and reject anything that we oppose.
 
Greenstone
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 01:29 pm
@xris,
yea i disagree with him there as well lol
 
Serena phil
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 03:23 pm
@Greenstone,
This letter to Menoeceus sort of contours his perception:

"Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come. So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it." -Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 05:19 pm
@Serena phil,
Greenstone;81246 wrote:
Hi, i'm trying to learn about Epicureanism or, what Epicurus taught but everything i've came across on the net or books hasn't offered a down to earth description of his teachings. If someone could please tell me what he taught, in laymen's terms, regarding the following topics, I would greatly appreciate it. [IMG]file:///C:/Users/Jerry/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]

God
Meaning of Life and the search for it
Morals/Ethics/what they're based on
Death
How to be happy
Dealing with sadness/pain/anger/etc


Honestly, the best person to trust about Epicureanism is yourself and a good book. There are a few books I think you would really appreciate in the respect of an more simplified explanation of Epicureanism. If you want a very concise but extended elaboration of Epicureanism, try to find A Companion to Ancient Philosophy by Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin. The book is part of a wonderful series called "Blackwell companions to philosophy" which is primarily composed of independently written articles intended for the context of the book. In particular, the section on Epicureanism is done by a one Pierre-Marie Morel, who is also a very well known scholar as far as Democritus is concerned as well. But anyway, the article is about 17 pages long (pages 486-503) and contains primary accounts his physics (with an emphasis on Democritean heritage) and "new" nature, his epistemological variants, Ethics, etc. It's probably the best book which simplifies Epicureanism.

On God/Death, Serena rightly suggested you look to The Letter to Menoeceus because it contains the hallmarks of the tetrapharmakos, or simply, the "quadruple remedy." This quadruple remedy is intended within the context of Epicureanism essentially underlines four points that keep us from happiness. In the first point, we really should not fear the gods because they are indifferent and omnipotent. Epicurus does not negate the existence of the Gods, but I think rightly attributes the cornerstone of an enlighten view of them which is that the Gods are indifferent to the phenomena of the universe. We should also not fear death, because death is nothing compared to the larger context of our metaphysical makeup. We should also understand that pleasure is attainable in its highest states and can lead in its own way to the elimination of suffering. And also, because humans can withstand the pain of suffering, we understand that suffering in particular is unlimited in nature.

On the meaning of life/the search for it/how to be happy, Epicurus believes that knowledge forms the foundation of happiness. This is evident in how extensive his metaphysical, ontological, and cosmological accounts go even though he does not place much priority in them (corpuscular theory, etc.). Essentially, understanding the workings of the universe (via his physics i.e. phusiologia) reveals our misconceptions, our illusions, and anything which we take and doubt. Through an "affective" intermediate system of science, namely the attainment of pleasure, we are free to "choose" a happy life. The ultimate goal of a happy life is (of course) pleasure, which comes about not from a full attainment of pleasure, but in the absence of pain. This is a fundamental fact that is overlooked by many, that pleasure is not so much the goal as the extermination of pain is. Look to Letter of Menoeceus,
 
Greenstone
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 07:48 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
thank you for your in-depth response. i'm definately going to check into all of this. thanks 8)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 02:16 am
@Greenstone,
Greenstone;81246 wrote:
Hi, i'm trying to learn about Epicureanism or, what Epicurus taught but everything i've came across on the net or books hasn't offered a down to earth description of his teachings. If someone could please tell me what he taught, in laymen's terms, regarding the following topics, I would greatly appreciate it. Very Happy

God
Meaning of Life and the search for it
Morals/Ethics/what they're based on
Death
How to be happy
Dealing with sadness/pain/anger/etc


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