Epicurus’ Philosophy on a Good Life
Epicurus was a Greek philosopher. He was born, in the year 341 BCE, on the island of Samos, which is located a mile off of the western coast of Turkey. In 306 he moved to Athens for the required two years of military training that every Athenian did. When he finished the training he stayed in Athens absorbing the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Democritus. He eventually returned to his home in Samos where he started his own school, The Garden. The reason the school was called The Garden is because its location was, believe it or not, his own garden.
It is there where he taught philosophy to his disciples who were known as “the philosophers of the garden. ” But unlike Plato’s Academy and the Lyceum of Aristotle, “The Garden” allowed women to join and philosophize, which was unheard of at that time. One of the biggest things Epicurus tried to achieve was tranquility. His definition of pleasure was that was “freedom from pain and fear. ” Epicurus valued the mind more so than the body. He said that we should enjoy intellectual pleasure more than sensual pleasure because the intellectual would last much longer and cause less suffering.
Epicurus is not saying that having sex or other physical pleasures is bad or evil, because the sensations felt during the act is always good. He is saying that when you have too much of it or pursue it too often, it ends up bringing pain and lasts only a short while. It is in this sense that Epicurus is a hedonist. A hedonist is one who believes that pleasure is the greatest good for people. This developed Epicureanism, a hedonistic philosophy that stressed science, serenity, and friendship as the keys to pleasure, happiness, and the good life.
Some of the greatest producers of pain and fear are religion and death. Epicurus believed that if we conquered the fear of death, the afterlife, and the gods we would be able to reach genuine happiness. One of the major differences between Epicurus and other Greeks is that he claimed that gods did not interfere with the affairs of the human world. Epicurus overcame his fear of death through his logical thought process such as “Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not? What he is basically saying is that it is not worth the suffering of fearing death when you are alive. When you are alive you are not dead, and when you are dead you can’t feel anything meaning that you can’t feel death. Epicurus is considered a major figure in the history of science as well as philosophy. He argued that we should weigh belief to factual evidence and logic, and he proposed the scientific view of atomism, where all facts in the macroscopic world are caused by the configuration of atoms or indivisible elements in the microscopic world and emptiness for the atoms to move in.
Nearing his untimely death of prostatitis he wrote many letters to friends, one asking that the children of one of his first followers Metrodorus be taken care of. Epicurus made provisions in his will for the care of the children. Even in all this pain, he was still thinking about the kids he would be leaving. He also left “The Garden” and some funds to trustees of the school and the remaining money was to be used to honor his family and to celebrate his birthday yearly. So how do we live a good life? According to Epicurus, you choose the intellectual pleasure over the physical pleasure.
The intellectual pleasure will last a lifetime while a physical pleasure will last for but a short while. But this alone is not enough, for even if you have the right pleasure, there is still fear which counteracts said pleasure. So how do we get rid of the pain? We realize that when we are alive we can feel and when we are dead we have lost the sensation to feel, and how can you be afraid of that which you can’t feel, you can’t. The only thing that I think Epicurus is missing is a balance between overindulgence, and starvation of pleasures.
As well as the buddhists Tathata, which basicly means living in the moment. There is joy and happiness surrounding us in every moment, you just have to open your eyes and find it. Bibliography 1) “Epicurus and Pursuing Happiness. ” Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. . 2)”Epicurus. ” Pursuit of Happiness. Pursuit of Happiness, Inc. , 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. . 3) Zeuschner, Robert B. “Chapter 3: Epicurus: Pleasure Is the Foundation of Ethical Judgments. “Classical Ethics, East and West: Ethics from a Comparative Perspective. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2000. 51-67. Print.