Open Universities ID: 516616
Macquarie University ID: 43388965
“Letter to Menoeceus”
Word Count: 963
Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus,” p. 49-50.
What argument does he provide for why we should not fear death? What is the ethical purpose of this argument for how we should live our lives? Do you agree with Epicurus’s views? Why or why not? -------------------------------------------------
Epicurus was a hedonist, a materialist and a consequentialist who strongly believed that in order to attain the good life one must live a pleasant existence free of worry and pain. Through reflection of the concepts in Epicurus’s Letter to Menoeceus this paper will discuss Epicurus’s argument of why ‘death means nothing to us’ (Epicurus 1998a, p.49). In other words, the concept that one should not fear death, which he held to be a state of fear bringing only pain to one’s life. In addition, the notion of applying these concepts for ethical purposes on how one should live their life will be explained. In conclusion, this paper will provide a compelling argument of the reasons why Epicurus’s ideas on being fearless of death did indeed contribute to the alleviation of pain and helped with the pursuit of happiness or ataraxia (peace of mind). Epicurus was a materialist who believed ‘human beings are purely material creatures’ (Epicurus 1998a, p.47), that the human body is complexly composed of atoms and when people die their bodies disintegrate along with their minds. Therefore, Epicurus believed it to be impossible for human beings to experience death. For Epicurus this makes the fear of death completely unnecessary, for ‘what is no trouble when it arrives is an idle worry in anticipation’ (de Botton 2000, p. 59). Epicurus thought that if one were to fear their death, they would only provoke unwanted worry and pain in their life. Furthermore, if one were to live a life with worry and pain,...
Epicurus in his letter to Menoeceus backers the necessity of freedom from prejudice, superstition and extremes of emotions in the pursuit of happiness and a tranquil life. The apparent simplicity of this formula allowed detractors to misinterpret Epicurus, depicting him as depraved, hedonistic, anarchistic and atheistic. His aim is to present to us, how to live a happy life. He sees happiness as the fundamental principle of the good life. This paper is an attempt to critically delineate the essential tenets of Epicureanism as articulated in his letter to Menoeceus, and finally to criticize and evaluate in order to arrive at a dependable conclusion. In what follows, it would be apt to briefly consider the personality or Epicurus, before delving into the main work.
Epicurus was born in 342BC at Samos, a colony of Athens. His youthful period at Samos provided him with standard Greek education, which Epicurus supplemented with his own investigation into philosophy. At the age of eighteen he came to Athens for his military service. Epicurus was highly influenced by earlier thinkers, especially by Cyrenaic and Democritus; he differed in a significant way with Democritus on determinism. He was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. He wrote 300 written works, including 37 treatises on physics and numerous works on...
...EpicurusEpicurus is famous for being a ancient Greek Philosopher that created the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. His thoughts of pleasure and pain go much deeper than crying or smiling. He went beyond what others were doing, by standing back and watching the bigger picture of what’s morally right and wrong. Epicurus had a goal for human life and it is being happy, but happiness comes from absence of physical pain and mental disturbance. What that says is that we put ourselves through so much mental and physical pain to receive very little happiness. Epicurus as a Philosopher was ahead of his time and really put everyone’s ideas, thoughts, fears, and pleasures in words and explained how they worked in our bodies.
There are two types of pleasure that we endure. The two are Kinetic and katastematic. The kind of pleasure we receive from kinetic is such as performing something just like eating or drinking. The food now makes us happier and satisfied for time being. Basically kinetic is some sort of activity that makes you feel happy. When your happy, you are more prone to live a exciting and progressive life. Katastematic gives us pleasure that feels like almost being totally isolated. What this means is you are receiving pleasure from not being distracted or bugged by others, makes you feel free. The absence of katastematic pleasure in the soul, is the highest good according to Epicures. The importance of...
...teachings and ideals of a man named Epicurus. Epicureanism is defined by Epicurus as the pleasure for the end of all morality and that real pleasure is attained through a life of prudence, honor, and justice. Epicurus introduced this philosophy around 322 B.C, and two schools established in Athens. Epicurus taught the ethics of his philosophy in his school, that a person should live by "the art of making life happy", and that "prudence is the noblest part of philosophy"(newadvent.org). Epicurus ideals for life intrigued people and they began to think that perhaps the ethics of Epicureanism had some truth behind it; a person should live his/her life to the fullest in order to become happy. Epicurus also made judgments on theology, logic and psychology. Throughout the life of Epicurus and his teachings of Epicureanism, the people of Greece and the world widened their view of life as a result of Epicurus teachings. Epicureanism provided a great out-look on what life should be.
During the age of Epicureanism, people questioned the philosophy of Epicurus. In order to understand the history of Epicureanism, the person must first understand the knowledge of how and why it came to be. The how part which helps people to better understand the teachings of Epicureanism is "the art of making life happy." To people in Athens this was reflected by the people...
...What connections have you found between the ways Duffy and Pugh write about suffering?
Suffering is the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Suffering is shown in “Standing Female Nude” and “Girl Talking” by Carol Ann Duffy, and “The Capon Clerk” and “Eva and the Roofers” by Sheenagh Pugh. The authors give their poems depth by using different types of suffering in different ways. Duffy and Pugh both create a deep sense of suffering within their characters. However Duffy makes the character a victim of someone else’s suffering, just like Pugh. Ultimately, Duffy shows the inescapable human cruelty within society, by giving someone a voice.
“Standing Female Nude” by Carol Ann Duffy is about the suffering due to exploitation through art. This is because an artist is exploiting a woman. In “Standing Female Nude” a women is being drawn by a man who is paying her a “few francs.” The poem is based on Georges Braques painting of a woman which is entitled “Standing Female Nude.” At the start of this poem Duffy uses “Six hours like this for a few francs” this tells us the location, Paris, as well as showing how underpaid she is, thus her suffering must be high. The colloquial language used “Belly nipple arse” is stream of consciousness. Duffy uses this phrase to highlight her thoughts. All she is thinking about is her naked body that is on display. She is...
...wealth, but the good life also need something else to bring the happiness in life. Epicurus for once present the world his depiction of a good life in his “Letter to Menoecceus”. The ideas of a good life presented by Epicurus in “Letter to Menoeceus” have many aspects of a good life but all of his views have a common goals, which is to live in a pleasure life. According to Epicurus, a good life is to live in happiness. The happiness mentioned was not on the state of perfection and well-being, but rather focused on pleasure which is a state of body free from pain and mind free or worry/anxiety. Epicurus ideas of living in a good life has a connection with philosophy, gods, death, and avoiding pain to gain pleasure in life.
The first principle that he mentioned to live in a good life is to believe in gods. One must have respect for the divine being whether it is many gods or single gods. Epicurus state in “Letter to Menoeceus” and I quoted “First of all believe that god is a being immortal and blessed, even as the common idea of a god is engraved on men’s minds, and do not assign him anything alien to his immortality or ill-suited to his blessedness: but believe about him everything that can uphold his blessedness and immortality” (page 651). By believing in gods and worshipped them shows that people respecting the gods in order to live a good life because the gods can determine their fate....
...happy because it is performing its function poorly.
Epicurus had a different take on the highest virtue of man. Epicurus believed the highest virtue was the pursuit of pleasure. We must keep in mind he is not referring to the physical, materialistic pleasures that come to mind in the modern day definition of the word pleasure. For Epicurus, pleasure is tied closely to satisfying one's desires.
Pleasure results from getting what you want and pain results from not getting what you want. This means that if the highest virtue of man were the pursuit of pleasure, the pursuit of satisfying desires would be where we find happiness. To find pleasure we must satisfy desires.
Epicurus also believed that happiness comes from the absence of pain. If a pleasant life comes from the satisfaction of desires, then an unpleasant life must come from the lack of satisfaction of those same desires. There are two ways to pursue any desire, either try to fulfill it or try to eliminate it. Because Epicurus believed happiness, and in turn living "the good life", comes from the absence of pain and pain comes from having unsatisfied desires, he thought instead of trying to satisfy every desire we should try to eliminate them. His thought was if we did not have any desires, or longing for something, we would not be unhappy. Eliminating desires can then lead to tranquility, the highest state of being in his mind....
Life comes at a great cost. Whether it is suffering from loneliness to suffering physical and psychological turmoil, no one is exempt from hardships. Nonetheless, those who endure suffering have something unique in common—they know the agony. As victims of hard times, these “wounded healers” as they are often called, can use their own experiences not only to help and guide others in turmoil, they can also provide a path of escape for such people.
In The Wounded Healer, author Henri Nouwen explores this topic into great depth as he contemplates the reason behind suffering. With much pondering, he concludes that man is allowed to undergo hardships so that he, in turn, can be a healer for others. One cannot hope to understand the anguish of another if he does not have a similar experience himself. The logic is, God tolerates suffering in this world so that man can become stronger. This concept of “stronger” does not merely refer to the renewed physical and psychological endurance that results from the survival of such an ordeal; it branches as far out as to encompass the unity and harmony of mankind. Henri Nouwen imagines a world that is led by humans that care for and understand one another.
Suffering feasts upon life, but the argument that it fails to ennoble is unstable. Suffering can lead to two paths—the calloused heart and the...
The Unlived Life:
Rejecting Pleasure to Avoid Pain in The Handbook of Epicurus
According to The Handbook of Epicurus, achieving the good life can only be done by living the life of apatheia- life free from emotional disturbance and worry. Epicurus proposes that in order to achieve true apatheia man must completely detach himself from everything outside his control: from the body, from possessions, from death, and from relationships with others. It is only through accepting that we lack control in the world order that true peace can be achieved. By focusing primarily on what one can control, namely one’s opinions, impulses, desires, and aversions, Epicurus believes that apatheia will be reached and the good life finally lived.
However, in order to reach the life of apatheia Epicurus essentially suggests removing all pleasures from life because they also result in pain and worry. Although a life without pain and worry (apatheia) does sound ideal, it removes the very emotional base that gives life its substance. In order to truly experience life, you must experience pain so that you can also experience joy. Although the life of apatheia seeks to remove the possibility of pain, it in turn removes any possibility of experiencing true delight, experiences which give life meaning. Epicurus proposes experiencing everything in moderation and removing all attachments to others. In removing...