Friday, November 13, 2009


We'd just started to discuss Epicurus when the bell rang yesterday in Happiness 101. I was going to mention some of the points Jennifer Hecht makes in Doubt: A History:

Epicurus proclaimed it was time... to explain the world rationally to relieve humanity of fear... there is nothing left to fear: we are going to die, but so what? When it is over, it will be over. Pain happens but either does not last long or is bearable, so let it come if it's going to come. There are no ghostly grownups watching our lives and waiting to punish us. Everything is ok. It is all just happening.

What is more, urged Epicurus, life is full of sweetness. We might as well enjoy it; we might as well really make an art of appreciating pleasure... a joyous cultivation of knowledge...

He believed there was no real point in praying, both because the gods are not listening and because human beings are entirely capable of making themselves happy on their own. Yet, he also said that the act of prayer was a natural part of human behavior and ought to be indulged.

[Similarly], he recommended that people take part in the religious conventions of their country. His central purpose in this seems to have been in line with the rest of his advice, i.e., it promoted a trouble-free life.

Yet more to discuss in "Atheism & Spirituality."

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