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Epicureanism: A very Short Introduction

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February 5th 2016

Most people have a an excellent idea what that is to have actually a Stoical attitude to life, yet what it means to have actually an Epicurean mindset is no so obvious. When attempting to decipher the true nature the Epicureanism it is an initial necessary come dispel the impression that fine dining is its main theme. Indigenous its development in the 3rd century BCE, Epicureanism has revolved approximately a collection of interrelated and also compelling ideas about nature, morality, and politics. It added to clinical enquiry, social progress, and also human self-understanding. Epicureanism to be treated together a serious, though wrong-headed ideology by its Stoic rivals and has unable to do on to be caricatured and also maligned down throughout the ages.

The letters and also sayings that Greek thinker Epicurus, in addition to his many manuscripts on nature and society (long lost however recently partially recovered), were reworked through his an initial century BCE roman follower, Titus Carus Lucretius, right into the six-part poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature the Things).

In this beautiful text, you will uncover an exposition of old materialism based on the insurance claim that nothing yes, really exists other than atoms, in motion and at rest, and the void. Follow to the mechanism there room multiple worlds, or cosmoi. Each of these has emerged from chaos, producing its own stars and planets, people, animals, and also plants, and each will at some point return come chaos.

The mental is material, and all living beings room mortal. The ancient Epicureans denied any involvement of a God or god in the production of human beings or their maintenance, and Lucretius in specific saw faith as superstitious and cruel. Death, lock maintained, is no to be feared however is a condition of nothingness from which all experience, hence all suffering is excluded. This insurance claim was central to a philosophy whose aim to be to banish fear and also its often tragic consequences, including the persecution of others, from person experience.

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Wikimedia Commons.

" data-medium-file="https://42796r1ctbz645bo223zkcdl-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Epicurus_bust2-130x220.jpg" data-large-file="https://42796r1ctbz645bo223zkcdl-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Epicurus_bust2-439x744.jpg" loading="lazy" src="https://42796r1ctbz645bo223zkcdl-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Epicurus_bust2-439x744.jpg" alt="Marble bust of Epicurus. Roman copy the Greek original, third century BC/2nd century BC. Brother Museum. Windy domain via Wikimedia Commons." width="439" height="744" class="size-large wp-image-117044" />Marble bust of Epicurus. Roman inn copy the Greek original, third century BC/2nd century BC. Brother Museum. Publicly domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In moral philosophy, the Epicureans suggested that the avoidance of pain, inflicting it and also experiencing it, and also the enjoyment of not authorised pleasures ought to overview human ‘choice and also avoidance.’ uneven the Stoics, they go not intend that the human mind has countless power end the body; insofar together we are completely material beings, us act and suffer as one psycho-physical unity. They cautioned against excess, pointing out that that while eating, drinking, and sex are pleasurable and so to be enjoyed, moderation is dubbed for. Overindulgence or imprudent selection brings on all manner that vexation, pain, social punishment, and also remorse.

Epicurean political philosophy is based on the idea that humans produced their organizations by trial and error over countless years, teach by no one, and that unstable forms of government and social exercise will for sure give way to various other forms. Every social distinctions the for space imaginary or conventional; there space no herbal authorities or natural hierarchies. The institution of Epicurus was exceptional in Athens in allowing women as members.

The Epicurean legacy is impressive. It has actually left one imprint in the writings of Hobbes, Cavendish, Locke, Newton, Hume, Rousseau, Bentham, Mill, Darwin and also Marx, and also in an ext recent philosophical writing. There have been many detractors as well, native the Fathers of the early Church, who concerned the Epicurean teachings v consternation, every the way to Kant that wanted to draw a sharp line between the quest of happiness and the search of ethical goodness. This led that to create his own opposing theory of the noumenal substratum of reality to the Epicurean atoms.

Featured picture credit: Greek Antiquity. Windy domain via Pixabay.


Catherine Wilson is Professor of viewpoint at The college of York and also visits the USA on regular basis to teach in ~ the Graduate facility of the City university of new York. She has written a number of books and also articles ~ above early modern science and philosophy consisting of Leibniz’s Metaphysics; The Invisible World; Descartes’s Meditations: A brand-new Introduction; and also Epicureanism in ~ the origins of Modernity, together with two publications on moral philosophy: Moral Animals: Ideals and also Constraints in ethical Theory, and Metaethics from a First-Person Standpoint. She is the writer of Epicureanism: A really Short development (chathamtownfc.net, 2015).

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