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Ezra Reyes
Ezra Reyes

Epicurus And His Philosophy !!EXCLUSIVE!!



In this volume, the first comprehensive book in English about Epicurus, existing data on the life of the ancient philosopher is related to the development of his doctrine. The result is a fascinating account that challenges traditional theories and interpretations of Epicurean philosophy. Professor DeWitt demonstrates the fallacy of centuries of abuse of Epicurus and the resulting distortion of most discussions of Epicureanism that appear in standard philosophical works. Of major significance to students of philosophy and theology are the findings that show the importance of Epicureanism as a source of numerous Christian beliefs.




Epicurus and His Philosophy



Epicurus asserted that philosophy's purpose is to attain as well as to help others attain happy (eudaimonic), tranquil lives characterized by ataraxia (peace and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of pain). He advocated that people were best able to pursue philosophy by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial and the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, and hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. Epicurus taught that although the gods exist, they have no involvement in human affairs. He taught that people should act ethically not because the gods punish or reward them for their actions but because, due to the power of guilt, amoral behavior would inevitably lead to remorse weighing on their consciences and as a result, they would be prevented from attaining ataraxia.


During Epicurus's lifetime, Platonism was the dominant philosophy in higher education.[23] Epicurus's opposition to Platonism formed a large part of his thought.[24][25] Over half of the forty Principal Doctrines of Epicureanism are flat contradictions of Platonism.[24] In around 311 BC, Epicurus, when he was around thirty years old, began teaching in Mytilene.[24][11] Around this time, Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, arrived in Athens, at the age of about twenty-one, but Zeno did not begin teaching what would become Stoicism for another twenty years.[24] Although later texts, such as the writings of the first-century BC Roman orator Cicero, portray Epicureanism and Stoicism as rivals,[24] this rivalry seems to have only emerged after Epicurus's death.[24][24]


I have written this letter to you on a happy day to me, which is also the last day of my life. For I have been attacked by a painful inability to urinate, and also dysentery, so violent that nothing can be added to the violence of my sufferings. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation, counterbalances all these afflictions. And I beg you to take care of the children of Metrodorus, in a manner worthy of the devotion shown by the young man to me, and to philosophy.[38]


Epicurus distinguished between two different types of pleasure: "moving" pleasures (κατὰ κίνησιν ἡδοναί) and "static" pleasures (καταστηματικαὶ ἡδοναί).[81][82] "Moving" pleasures occur when one is in the process of satisfying a desire and involve an active titillation of the senses.[81] After one's desires have been satisfied (e.g. when one is full after eating), the pleasure quickly goes away and the suffering of wanting to fulfill the desire again returns.[81][83] For Epicurus, static pleasures are the best pleasures because moving pleasures are always bound up with pain.[81][83] Epicurus had a low opinion of sex and marriage, regarding both as having dubious value.[84] Instead, he maintained that platonic friendships are essential to living a happy life.[85] One of the Principal Doctrines states, "Of the things wisdom acquires for the blessedness of life as a whole, far the greatest is the possession of friendship."[86][87] He also taught that philosophy is itself a pleasure to engage in.[85] One of the quotes from Epicurus recorded in the Vatican Sayings declares, "In other pursuits, the hard-won fruit comes at the end. But in philosophy, delight keeps pace with knowledge. It is not after the lesson that enjoyment comes: learning and enjoyment happen at the same time."[88][87]


Epicurus' teachings were introduced into medical philosophy and practice by the Epicurean doctor Asclepiades of Bithynia, who was the first physician who introduced Greek medicine in Rome. Asclepiades introduced the friendly, sympathetic, pleasing and painless treatment of patients. He advocated humane treatment of mental disorders, had insane persons freed from confinement and treated them with natural therapy, such as diet and massages. His teachings are surprisingly modern; therefore Asclepiades is considered to be a pioneer physician in psychotherapy, physical therapy and molecular medicine.[90]


Epicurus was an extremely prolific writer.[121][119][64][68] According to Diogenes Laërtius, he wrote around 300 treatises on a variety of subjects.[119][64] Although more original writings of Epicurus have survived to the present day than of any other Hellenistic Greek philosopher,[68] the vast majority of everything he wrote has still been lost,[121][119][64] and most of what is known about Epicurus's teachings come from the writings of his later followers, particularly the Roman poet Lucretius.[64] The only surviving complete works by Epicurus are three relatively lengthy letters, which are quoted in their entirety in Book X of Diogenes Laërtius's Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, and two groups of quotes: the Principal Doctrines (Κύριαι Δόξαι), which are likewise preserved through quotation by Diogenes Laërtius, and the Vatican Sayings, preserved in a manuscript from the Vatican Library that was first discovered in 1888.[64] In the Letter to Herodotus and the Letter to Pythocles, Epicurus summarizes his philosophy on nature and, in the Letter to Menoeceus, he summarizes his moral teachings.[64] Numerous fragments of Epicurus's lost thirty-seven volume treatise On Nature have been found among the charred papyrus fragments at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.[64][68] Scholars first began attempting to unravel and decipher these scrolls in 1800, but the efforts are painstaking and are still ongoing.[64]According to Diogenes Laertius (10.27-9), the major works of Epicurus include:


Epicureanism was a notoriously conservative philosophical school;[6][18][19] although Epicurus's later followers did expand on his philosophy, they dogmatically retained what he himself had originally taught without modifying it.[6][18][19] Epicureans and admirers of Epicureanism revered Epicurus himself as a great teacher of ethics, a savior, and even a god.[131] His image was worn on finger rings, portraits of him were displayed in living rooms, and wealthy followers venerated likenesses of him in marble sculpture.[132] His admirers revered his sayings as divine oracles, carried around copies of his writings, and cherished copies of his letters like the letters of an apostle.[132] On the twentieth day of every month, admirers of his teachings would perform a solemn ritual to honor his memory.[123] At the same time, opponents of his teachings denounced him with vehemence and persistence.[123]


In spite of this, DeWitt argues that Epicureanism and Christianity share much common language, calling Epicureanism "the first missionary philosophy" and "the first world philosophy".[135] Both Epicureanism and Christianity placed strong emphasis on the importance of love and forgiveness[136] and early Christian portrayals of Jesus are often similar to Epicurean portrayals of Epicurus.[136] DeWitt argues that Epicureanism, in many ways, helped pave the way for the spread of Christianity by "helping to bridge the gap between Greek intellectualism and a religious way of life" and "shunt[ing] the emphasis from the political to the social virtues and offer[ing] what may be called a religion of humanity."[137]


In 1417, a manuscript-hunter named Poggio Bracciolini discovered a copy of Lucretius's On the Nature of Things in a monastery near Lake Constance.[134] The discovery of this manuscript was met with immense excitement, because scholars were eager to analyze and study the teachings of classical philosophers and this previously-forgotten text contained the most comprehensive account of Epicurus's teachings known in Latin.[134] The first scholarly dissertation on Epicurus, De voluptate (On Pleasure) by the Italian Humanist and Catholic priest Lorenzo Valla was published in 1431.[134] Valla made no mention of Lucretius or his poem.[134] Instead, he presented the treatise as a discussion on the nature of the highest good between an Epicurean, a Stoic, and a Christian.[134] Valla's dialogue ultimately rejects Epicureanism,[134] but, by presenting an Epicurean as a member of the dispute, Valla lent Epicureanism credibility as a philosophy that deserved to be taken seriously.[134]


Epicurus is considered a major figure in the history of science as well as philosophy. He argued that we should only proportion belief to empirical evidence and logic, and he propounded the scientific view of atomism, according to which all facts in the macroscopic world are caused by the configuration of atoms or indivisible elements in the microscopic world. In ethics he is famous for propounding the theory of hedonism, which holds that pleasure is the only intrinsic value. As we shall see, however, his view of pleasure is far from the stereotypical one. For Epicurus, the most pleasant life is one where we abstain from unnecessary desires and achieve an inner tranquility (ataraxia) by being content with simple things, and by choosing the pleasure of philosophical conversation with friends over the pursuit of physical pleasures like food, drink, and sex. 041b061a72


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