Suffering and Epicurus Essay

1068 Words Sep 2nd, 2013 5 Pages
Reading Assignment

Sasha Jade McGinley

PHI110

(SP2 2013)

Open Universities ID: 516616
Macquarie University ID: 43388965

“Letter to Menoeceus”
Word Count: 963

Reading 1:
Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus,” p. 49-50.
What argument does he provide for why we should not fear death? What is the ethical purpose of this argument for how we should live our lives? Do you agree with Epicurus’s views? Why or why not?
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Epicurus was a hedonist, a materialist and a consequentialist who strongly believed that in order to attain the good life one must live a pleasant existence free of worry and pain. Through reflection of the concepts in Epicurus’s Letter to Menoeceus this paper will
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In order to live the good life, one must eliminate all pain and live a life with maximum pleasure. Unlike other hedonist philosophers, Epicurus evaluated pleasures by their duration rather than their intensity, making psychological pleasures much more desirable to physical pleasures. Epicurus, as a consequentialist thought that in order to achieve the good life, one had to logically assess future consequences of human actions through rational reflection and evaluation. If one were to rationally reflect on death they would soon ‘realise that there was nothing but oblivion after death’ (de Botton 2000, p. 59).
The Leading Doctrines of Epicurean philosophy state that ‘it is impossible to live the pleasant life without also living sensibly, nobly and justly, and conversely it is impossible to live sensibly, nobly and justly without living pleasantly’ (Epicurus, 1998b, p.53). Therefore, the good Epicurean believes in order to live virtuously, one must adhere to a pleasurable life. For Epicureans it is impossible to live virtuously and unpleasantly or vice-versa. In addition, Epicurus describes pleasure as our ‘primary native good’ (Epicurus 1998a, p. 51), implying that all human actions are driven by pleasures and by the avoidance of pains. Another imperative concept to Epicurean philosophy is Epicurus’ idea of the three fundamental aspects in attaining pleasure, those of friendship, freedom and an analysed life
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