He is pessimistic about our ability to gain any knowledge about the world on the basis of our senses, since they systematically deceive us about the way the world is. The communities of Epicureans can be seen as embodying these ideals, and these are ideals that ultimately promote ataraxia. Like the virtues, justice is valued entirely on instrumental grounds, because of its utility for each of the members of society. If death is bad, for whom is it bad? Further ideas are formed by processes of analogy or similarity or by compounding these basic concepts. Knowledge 2. Aristotle thinks that this apparent purposiveness in nature cannot be eliminated, and that the functioning of the parts of organisms must be explained by appealing to how they contribute to the functioning of the organism as a whole. If death is annihilation, says Epicurus, then it is ‘nothing to us.’ Epicurus’ main argument for why death is not bad is contained in the Letter to Menoeceus and can be dubbed the ‘no subject of harm’ argument. Feelings of pleasure and pain form the basic criteria for what is to be sought and avoided. Although Epicurus is reticent about the details, some features of the mind are accounted for in terms of the features of these atoms–for instance, the mind is able to be moved a great deal by the impact of an image (which is something quite flimsy), because of the smallness of the particles that make up the mind. EpicurusEpicurus, bronze bust from a Greek original, c. In respect to this, what is the contribution of Epicurus in philosophy? Friendship 3. Epicurus calls this a ‘static’ pleasure, and says that these static pleasures are the best pleasures. All that has survived is what seems to be an abridged version of Epicurus's philosophy in the form of three letters, a few fragments, and a collection of his more important sayings entitled Major Opinions. If he says ‘yes,’ then he is contradicting himself. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Epicurus, the son of Neocles and Chaerestrata, was an Athenianfrom the deme of Gargettus and the lineage of the Philaïdes, asMetrodorus says in his On Noble Families. Also, there must be basic and unchangeable building blocks of matter in order to explain the regularities in nature. Therefore, moral reasoning is a matter of calculating the benefits and costs in terms of pleasure and pain. Thus, despite his hedonism, Epicurus advocates a surprisingly ascetic way of life. Some Epicureans did attempt some outreach, though. As Epicurus puts it, “If you wish to make Pythocles wealthy, don’t give him more money; rather, reduce his desires.” By eliminating the pain caused by unfulfilled desires, and the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that one’s desires will not be fulfilled in the future, the wise Epicurean attains tranquility, and thus happiness. 2, which contains the original Greek and Latin texts, has a fine, if somewhat dated (1987) bibliography at the end.Lucretius. Since the universe is unlimited in size, there must also be an unlimited number of atoms and an infinite amount of void. Although the major outlines of Epicurus’ thought are clear enough, the lack of sources means many of the details of his philosophy are still open to dispute. All of our knowledge ultimately comes from the senses, thinks Epicurus, and we can trust the senses, when properly used. The best book-length treatment of Epicurus’ epistemology available. In modern versions of the identity theory, the mind is identified with the brain, and mental processes are identified with neural processes. In a broad sense, it is a system of ethics embracing every conception or form of life that can be traced to … The second modification of Democritus’ views is the addition of the ‘swerve.’ In addition to the regular tendency of atoms to move downward, Epicurus thinks that occasionally, and at random times, the atoms swerve to the side. Although food is needed for survival, one does not need a particular type of food to survive. However, Epicurus thinks that this process of division cannot go on indefinitely, because otherwise bodies would dissolve away into nothing. Epicurus says that justice is an agreement “neither to harm nor be harmed,” and that we have a preconception of justice as “what is useful in mutual associations.” People enter into communities in order to gain protection from the dangers of the wild, and agreements concerning the behavior of the members of the community are needed in order for these communities to function, e.g., prohibitions of murder, regulations concerning the killing and eating of animals, and so on. Omissions? These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need; e.g., believing that having power will bring us security from others. Quite different from the usual connotations borne by the term epicurean today, life in the house and garden was simple. However, the underlying idea is quite similar. Epicureanism went into decline with the rise of Christianity. Epicurus founded his first philosophical schools in Mytilene and Lampsacus, before moving to Athens around 306 B.C.E. Epicurus arrived in Athens 17 years after the death of Aristotle, and founded a school known as The Garden. Epicurus rejected the existence of Platonic forms and an immaterial soul, and he said that the gods have no influence on our lives. Remaining funds were left to honour Epicurus’ deceased family and to celebrate his birthday annually and his memory monthly. Some writings by Epicurus have survived. Epicurus says that the main reason not to be unjust is that one will be punished if one gets caught, and that even if one does not get caught, the fear of being caught will still cause pain. If pleasure results from getting what you want (desire-satisfaction) and pain from not getting what you want (desire-frustration), then there are two strategies you can pursue with respect to any given desire: you can either strive to fulfill the desire, or you can try to eliminate the desire. If the skeptic says that nothing can be known, or that we cannot know the truth, we can ask him where he gets his knowledge of concepts such as ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth.’ If the senses cannot be relied on, as the skeptic claims, then he is not entitled to use concepts such as ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ in formulating his thesis, since such concepts derive from the senses. The third difference between Epicurus and Democritus has to do with their attitudes toward the reality of sensible properties. This explains vision. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). This need not mean, however, that he developed an aversion to the literary circles in Athens. The Canon: sensations, preconceptions, and feelings. Epicureanism, in a strict sense, the philosophy taught by Epicurus (341–270 bce). There was much correspondence with students in Athens and at other schools, some letters being concerned with doctrinal matters but many seeming to be merely social and friendly. Lucretius was an Epicurean who wrote De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), a six-book poem expounding Epicurus’ metaphysics. This is shown, thinks Democritus, by the fact that the same body appears differently to different percipients depending on their bodily constitution, e.g., that a ‘white’ body appears yellow to somebody with jaundice, or that honey tastes bitter to an ill person. Epicurus has been a misunderstood philosopher, yet his influence has been profound and can be considered one of the founders of modern philosophy. This concern is similar to the Paradox of Inquiry explored by Plato in the Meno, that one must already know about something in order to be able to inquire about it. The De Rerum Natura of Titus Lucretius Carus, Indiana University Press. From this, Democritus derives skeptical conclusions. Epicurus says that one should try to fulfill these desires. However, the virtues for Epicurus are all purely instrumental goods–that is, they are valuable solely for the sake of the happiness that they can bring oneself, not for their own sake. Epicurus is one of the first philosophers to put forward an Identity Theory of Mind. Sobegins the account by Diogenes Laertius (10.1). There Epicurus founded the Garden, a combination … He taught that the point of all one’s actions was to attain pleasure (conceived of as tranquility) for oneself, and that this could be done by limiting one’s desires and by banishing the fear of the gods and of death. At the age of 32, Epicurus began to teach, first at Mytilene and subsequently at Lampsacus, a period that lasted from 311/310 to 307/306. One reason for this swerve is that it is needed to explain why there are atomic collisions. "Epicurus" was an ancient Greek philosopher, he has a great contribution to philosophy. Why should I fear death? Instead, one should calculate what is in one’s long-term self-interest, and forgo what will bring pleasure in the short-term if doing so will ultimately lead to greater pleasure in the long-term. The main upshot of Epicurean theology is certainly negative, however. Epicurus wrote clearly but in no highly organized way. Epicurus taught and vis-à-vis the death a philosophy of detachment, of ataraxia (peace of mind). Epicurus consistently maintains that friendship is valuable because it is one of the greatest means of attaining pleasure. Epicureanism, as the philosophy became known, advocated forgoing many short-term pleasures and instead focusing on the overall pleasure and pain distribution over a lifetime. Against Aristotle, Epicurus argues that the universe is unlimited in size. Epicurus’ epistemology is resolutely empiricist and anti-skeptical. However, he modifies Democritus’ atomism in at least three important ways. Epicurus’ hedonism was widely denounced in the ancient world as undermining traditional morality. He studied philosophy under the Platonist teacher Pamphilus for four years. Abstract: The ethics of Epicurus is briefly outlined. Thus, apart from his two years in Athens, Epicurus spent the first 35 years of his life in Asia. The mind must be a body, thinks Epicurus, because of its ability to interact with the body. Epicurus, atoms and space Posted by rhanrott on 18 December 2013, 8:04 am Epicurus believed that the only things that exist are matter and void, and that atoms create everything by falling into space (void). At this time in Athens, cultural life was dominated by the Academy of Plato and the Lyceum of Aristotle, both of which had passed into the hands of successors. Upon death, says Epicurus, the container of the body shatters, and the atoms disperse in the air. He was about 19 when Aristotle died, and he studied philosophy under followers of Democritus and Plato. Therefore, death is not bad for the dead. His ideas continue to influence our world and then longevity of his thinking shows that it held influence through many major shifts in history. Thus, the consistent skeptic would engage in no action whatsoever, and would die. His argument can be set out as follows: Epicurus adds that if death causes you no pain when you’re dead, it’s foolish to allow the fear of it to cause you pain now. (Of course, this does not establish Epicurus’ further contention that only pleasure is intrinsically valuable and only pain is intrinsically bad.). Many of Epicurus’ methods made him comparable to a religious figure. And there must be an unlimited amount of void, since without a limitless amount of void, the infinite number of atoms would be unable to move. Because of the close connection of pleasure with desire-satisfaction, Epicurus devotes a considerable part of his ethics to analyzing different kinds of desires. He says that friendship “dances around the world” telling us that we must “wake to blessedness.” He also says that the wise man is sometimes willing to die for a friend. His is a voice that perhaps came into the world too early.