Contacts with material things, O son of Kuntī, give rise to cold and heat, pleasure and pain. They come and go, they do not last forever; endure them, O Bhārata. The man who is not troubled by these, O bull among men, who remains the same in [treats alike] pleasure and pain, who is wise; he is fit for eternal life.
(Bhagavad Gītā (fourth century BCE?) II.14-15; Radhakrishnan and Moore 1957:107)
O Lord, I am working hard in this field, and the field of my labors is my own self. I have become a problem to myself, like land which a farmer works only with difficulty and at the cost of much sweat.
(St Augustine, Confessions, X.16 (fourth century CE); Pine-Coffin 1961:222-3)
Recapitulation: Epicurus offered pleasure and the absence of pain as the straightedge by which to draft a picture of a life fit for a human being. Epicurus’ straightedge was not, however, indifferent to the kind of pleasures sought and the pains avoided; rather, it was fashioned with a particular conception of a flourishing person in mind, one who could do with the modest pleasures of private life and eschew both the risks and rewards of public life. That people can take pleasure in witnessing (sharing) the pleasures of others (as well as regard the flourishing of other people as constituents of their own flourishing) means that humans are not essentially self-regarding, even those who choose exclusively by reference to Epicurus’ straightedge. Epicureans, however, have no reason to listen to calls to expand the circle of their concerns to include the public sphere of their wider community or of humanity in general; their kanōn assigns no validity to the universal standpoint (concern for everyone). Combining the belief that suffering and enjoyment are the only morally significant capacities with the universal standpoint, however, yields a challenge to the belief that our moral concerns need extend no further than humans beings. Traditions that assign special moral standing to
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Publication information: Book title: Moral Measures:An Introduction to Ethics, West and East. Contributors: J. E. Tiles - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 273.
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