Ideals of Conduct: An Exposition of Moral Attitudes

By John Dashiell Stoops | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII S
DISASSOCIATION IN THE CYRENAICS AND THE EPICUREAN

The founding of the Academy (about 380) and the Peripatetic school (about 350) were followed toward the end of the century by the Cyrenaics, the forerunners of the Epicureans, and the Cynics, the forerunners of the Stoics. These two opposing schools, the Cyrenaic and the Cynic, which grew out of the Socratic teaching, agreed in their indifference to the study of the objective sciences.

Aristippus of Cyrene (born about 435) held that we know only our sensations; we do not know the causes of our sensations. The object of life, therefore, to Aristippus is to grasp the pleasure as it goes by in the flux of time. This is no easy matter. How difficult was this extraction of pleasure from the flow of sensations may be inferred from the fact that the teaching of some of the Cyrenaics led to suicide. The Cyrenaics attempt to escape all the ties that bind the mind and the will to objective ends. The will no longer follows through to the old objects, wife, child, property, art, the state.

That the Cyrenaic philosophy is a defense reaction is evident from the saying of Aristippus: "Habeo, non habeor" (I possess, I am not possessed). The mind of

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