Ethics Of The Hellenistic World Essay

1265 Words 6 Pages
In comparing the ethical theories of the Epicureans, Aristotle, and the Stoics it’s found that they possess three separate ideas. These ideas are different in their individual beliefs; yet attempt to accomplish the same goals of creating an inner peace and sense of well being in their followers. Generally these three disciplines had distinctly separate ideas on how to set about accomplishing these goals; the Epicureans felt that the pursuit of pleasure was the correct path to enlightenment, while the Stoics had the idea that the conformation to strict laws regarding virtue was the proper path, and as for Aristotle, he held the middle ground in this debate of the minds, feeling that moderation was the key to complete happiness.
Epicurus'
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The truest pleasure must come through the development within one of the generous emotions, kind sympathies, and large social interests”(Hyde, 51). Epicurus, however, insisted that courage, moderation, and the other virtues are needed in order to attain this happiness. To make someone wealthy it isn’t necessary to give him more money, only to reduce his desires. By eliminating the pain caused by these unfulfilled desires, and the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that one's desires will not be fulfilled in the future, the Epicurean attains tranquility, and thus happiness.
Stoicism, on the other hand, was essentially a system of ethics guided by logic as a theory of method, and rests upon physics as a foundation. Their notion of morality was strict, involving a life in accordance with nature and controlled by virtue. It was an ascetic system; teaching perfect indifference to everything external, for nothing external could be either good or evil. Therefore, to the Stoics both pain and pleasure, poverty and riches, sickness and health, were supposed to be equally unimportant. The Stoic ethical teaching was based upon two principles already developed in their physics; first, that the universe is governed by absolute law, which admits of no exceptions; and second, that the essential nature of humans is reason. Both are summed up in the Stoic saying of “living according to nature". For this adage has two aspects. It means in the first place, that men