Epicureanism

Epicureanism

Epicureanism

Epicureanism

Synopsis

The Epicurean school of philosophy was one of the dominant philosophies of the Hellenistic period. Founded by Epicurus of Samos (century 341-270 BCE) it was characterized by an empiricist epistemology and a hedonistic ethics. This new introduction to Epicurus offers readers clear exposition of the central tenets of Epicurus' philosophy, with particular stress placed on those features that have enduring philosophical interest and where parallels can be drawn with debates in contemporary analytic philosophy. Part 1 of the book examines the fundamentals of Epicurus' metaphysics, including atoms and the void, emergent and sensible properties, cosmology, mechanistic biology, the nature and functioning of the mind, death, and freedom of action. Part 2 explores Epicurus' epistemology, including his arguments against scepticism and his ideas on sensations, preconceptions and feelings. The final part deals with Epicurus' ethics, exploring his arguments for hedonism, his distinctive conceptions of types of pleasure and desire, his belief in virtue, his notions of justice, friendship and his theology. O'Keefe provides extended exegesis of the arguments supporting Epicurus' positions, indicating their strengths and weaknesses, while showing the connections between the various parts of his philosophy and how Epicureanism hangs together as a whole.

Excerpt

Why to read this book

Epicurus’ thought had a significant impact on the world: along with Stoicism and Academic Scepticism, Epicureanism was one of the major philosophical systems competing for the allegiance of thoughtful people in the Hellenistic world; Epicurean communities flourished for hundreds of years after Epicurus’ death; and the rediscovery of Epicurus’ philosophy helped shape the scientific revolution. Also, and in my view more importantly, Epicurus was a first-rate philosopher. He provides a systematic account of the nature of the world and our place in it, how we can come to know the world, and how we can attain happiness. Along the way he lays out arguments on a whole host of subsidiary topics, such as the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, the untenability of scepticism, the development of society, the role friendship plays in attaining happiness, and the afterlife (or lack thereof). In my own experience, grappling with what Epicurus has to say about something has always helped sharpen and deepen my own thinking on that subject, even where I ended up concluding that he was deeply mistaken. Epicurus himself would claim that we should study him simply to attain happiness. According to Epicurus, a proper understanding of the workings of the world and the natural limits of our . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.