Epicurus to menoeceus
So the young man should, like the old man, philosophize in this way, the second, while aging, rejuvenate the past thanks to the property, because he will devote their gratitude, and the first will be at the same time young and far advanced in years, because he will not fear the future.
When, therefore, we say that pleasure or happiness is the chief good, we are not speaking of the pleasures of debauched men, or those pleasures which lie in sensual enjoyment, as some allege about us who are ignorant, or who disagree with us, or who perversely misrepresent our opinions.
Thus, the most terrifying of evils, death is nothing for us, precisely because, when we exist, death is not present and, when death is present, then we do not exist. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul.
Epicurus letter to menoeceus citation
I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. No extant writings of Epicurus contain this argument. Is he both able and willing? Some pleasures lead to greater pain, like imbibing copious amounts of alcohol, and so the wise person will shun them. It is not the man who discards the gods believed in by the many who is impious, but he who applies to the gods the false opinions that most people entertain about them. The future, and its corollary fear of the future is what keeps the soul to reach equilibrium at ataraxia. Of the Natural desires, some are necessary, and some are not. He holds a holy belief concerning the gods, and is altogether free from the fear of death.
We must also consider that some of our human desires are given to us by Nature, and some are vain and empty. Bread and water give the most extreme pleasure when someone in great need eats of them.
He then founded a school in Lampsacus before returning to Athens in c.
The living, Epicurus argues, should not fear death because it has not yet arrived; the dead, on the other hand, could not be harmed by death because they no longer exist. As he writes: "My mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. So the young man should, like the old man, philosophize in this way, the second, while aging, rejuvenate the past thanks to the property, because he will devote their gratitude, and the first will be at the same time young and far advanced in years, because he will not fear the future. Epicurus's devoted follower, the Roman poet Lucretius , cited this myth as an example of the evils of popular religion, in contrast to the more wholesome theology advocated by Epicurus. Nonetheless, Epicurus differed from his predecessors on several key points of determinism and vehemently denied having been influenced by any previous philosophers, whom he denounced as "confused". Happiness is the greatest good, says Epicurus following Aristotle. As for death, he points out that once sentient experience comes to an end there will be no sensation of pain. The wise man understands that while chance may lead to great good, it may also lead to great evil, and he therefore thinks it to be better to be unsuccessful when acting in accord with reason than to be successful by chance when acting as a fool. Destiny which some introduce as sovereign over all things, he laughs to scorn, affirming rather that some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency. We should not therefore get rid of all negative emotions but only those that lead to unnecessary pains.
Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei, 13, God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. But the wise man sees that our actions are free, and because they are free, our actions are our own responsibility, and we deserve either blame or praise for them.
It is the starting point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we always come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing. Download: A 10k text-only version is available for download.
By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul. Thus the aim is not the positive pursuit of pleasure, as it was for Aristippus. He is concerned, then, with maximizing pleasure in the long run. Not the person who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them is truly impious. And happiness, is the maximization of pleasure. If he speaks only in mockery, his words are foolishness, for those who hear believe him not. While the gods do indeed exist, being perfect and eternal they do not directly concern themselves with human affairs. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious , which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils?
For this reason prudence is a more precious thing even than the other virtues, for ad a life of pleasure which is not also a life of prudence, honor, and justice; nor lead a life of prudence, honor, and justice, which is not also a life of pleasure.
True to his philosophy, Epicurus claimed to spend the last few days of life in pleasure, despite all the physical pain he was in. For Epicurus, the "swerve" of the atoms simply defeated determinism to leave room for autonomous agency. He ordained in his will annual memorial feasts for himself on the same date 10th of Gamelion month.
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