Tuesday, October 27, 2009

epicurean good

"When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of merrymaking, not sexual love, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest disturbances take possession of the soul. Of all this the end is prudence. For this reason prudence is a more precious thing even than the other virtues, for a life of pleasure which is not also a life of prudence, honor, and justice; nor lead a life of prudence, honor, and justice, which is not also a life of pleasure." Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.)

P.S. Happy birthday, Older Daughter!


irene said...

I like Epicurus!

Phil said...

Me too. Philosophers are born to be misunderstood, but boy was he ever. "Epicurean" nowadays is taken to mean pretty much the opposite of his intent.

Have to say I'm still not sold on his approach to death: when we're alive we're not dead yet, so death is nothing to us... Yeah, right.

But on the other hand, Brian Cohen and his persecuted pals must have read their Epicurus before singing about looking on the "bright side..."

irene said...

I think the phrase is misunderstood.
I understand it to mean that death is nothing to us in as much as we don't understand it. We can not know what it is, only that we have named it. Yet many people spend a great deal of there "living time" trying to figure it out when there is nothing to figure out! It just is what it is.One can ponder til every last grain of sand has been counted and still have no concrete answers.
We can know death is, but it is more logical to live while alive and find understanding of death when we are amidst it. (Just as finding the meaning of life after we are dead seems foolish).

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