philosophy paper

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Epicurus promoted a materialist atomism that presented the soul as a particular arrangement of atoms spread through the body. Consequently we have a capacity not just to be impacted by the surrounding world but also to feel from it and draw pleasure or pain accordingly. Epicurus believed that the primary function of human beings is to seek pleasure and move away from pain, all other things are secondary to this purpose. In this paper I will be discussing

Epicurus’s ethos stresses pleasure as a basis in which to define all things. As a consequentialist he believed when determining whether something is good or bad one must simply consider whether it gives us pleasure. Thus he states that pleasure is ‘the starting point and the goal of the happy life.’ This can be further understood by looking into his teachings on ethical and psychological hedonism. For Epicurus happiness is defined as obtaining pleasure and also achieving ataraxia, which is tranquillity of the mind. Desire for pleasure is an inherent aspect of human nature and thus the “starting point” of all human motivation. His anthropology states that the ultimate motivation for our actions is the search for pleasure, and given that there is nothing beyond bodies and their affects, the real path to the “good life is a life” of pleasure.

However, pleasure, as a moral principle is highly paradoxical. Good is evaluated by the pleasurable consequences we gain, or the painful consequences we avoid but something that brings present pleasure or pain may bring contradictory future consequences. Therefore while Epicurus states every pleasure is good pleasure one must judge rationally the total amount of pleasure or pain overall and over time. We have to be true to who we are acro...

... middle of paper ... sufficient reason for an epicurean to seek a long and good life. Furthermore epicurean ethics have been criticized as predominantly cynical and selfish. We are all separate atoms seeking pleasure in the great void; there is no sense of duty or social obligation. However it could be argued in return that though Epicurus did not see social obligation as the path to happiness he did in fact see friendship as a means of sustaining pleasure. It is said that in the last days of his life when he experienced great pain, he overcame this by recalling past conversations with friends.

Evidentially I believe it is easy to agree with the core values of epicurean ethics. Instead of ruminating over the past and worrying about the future we as Epicurus did should develop a cognitive technique that brings us back to the present and allows us to enjoy life as a gift.
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