For the Stoics, the goal was freedom of mind (or “apatheia”), achieved by cultivating indifference to death, pain, pleasure and wealth; for Epicurus, the goal was living happily. A happy life involved ongoing “ataraxia” – peace and freedom from fear – and it could be obtained without fear of death because death was not a concern.
The Epicurean explanation for this state of mind rests on the belief that if one understands what is fearful in life, they will no longer have anything to fear. The fear of death is one of the most serious fears, and it involves the belief that death will be painful. This is not true. There are states after death that can be pleasurable. Epicureans also argued that fears come from neglecting to take care of the body’s needs, which will result in pain after death, depending on how much discomfort one has caused during life. If you live a good life, there is no need to worry about anything other than the fear associated with the mere expectation of certain sensory pleasure throughout life.
In summary, the Epicurean argument was that it is impossible to be happy if you do not understand the truth about death and what needs to be done in life in order to be at ease with it. Death does not hurt and we do not need to fear that which we understand; we do not need to fear what is comprehended.
What is the primary principle of stoic thought?
Is the chief principle of the school that Epicurus laid down, that is to say, that virtue consists in making our own lives as happy as possible. For Chrysippus, the chief principle is this: “To live justly is also to live happily.” (Ethic. c. 13) This is said by him in explanation of the description already given of the Stoic sage; for “happiness” here means “living justly.” By living justly we are saying exactly what has been stated above.
This means that the virtue of the sage is justice and that in addition, he must also practice in life in accordance with this state of mind:
Doing all things in such a way as to lead to that end, and thinking of our actions in their entirety. For example, one should live justly and think of our actions in their entirety. (c. 13)
Chrysippus (163-109 BCE), like other Stoics, believed that life was full of hardship, pain and death. He held that the wise man would accept this fact and face up to it with equanimity, living for this life as if there were no future life at all.
He held that the chief principle of Stoic philosophy was that the sage, or wise man, ought to be miserable in the sense of being free from fear and pain, and with a state of mind most emotions. This is because virtue is “living in agreement with Nature” and vice is “living contrary to Nature”.
How can I practice stoicism in my own life?
Stoics believed that the only truly good thing is a virtue, and the wise man will achieve wisdom. This wisdom is not acquired by reading books, but by “living justly” in this life. After death virtue still survives, perhaps better than before. Stoics believe that the wise man will be happy in this life because he will have found happiness by living justly in it. The wise man’s happiness will come from being at peace with Nature, however, stoics define Nature.
What are the most important contributions of Epicureanism to ethics?
Epicurus is credited with founding a highly influential school of thought called “epicureanism”, often simply known as ” epicureanism “. It was an important and powerful philosophical tradition during the Hellenistic period. The term “epicurean” has come to mean a person who is devoted to sensual pleasures and comfort, which is derived from Epicurus’ teachings.
Ancient sources indicate that Epicurus was a student of Democritus, at least from about 340 BCE. Epicurus was a prolific writer and is known to have written over 300 works on a wide variety of subjects, including physics, politics, ethics and poetry. In one famous letter, he wrote that “Plato, for the most part, dwells upon the sublime, but I am myself pre-occupied with the pleasant. For it is my conviction that Nature has provided us with the pleasant, in order that we may be able to provide for the needs of our bodies and employ our leisure in philosophy; and this Epicurus taught me.”
For Epicurus, “pleasure” (the Greek term is “hêdonê”) is defined as:
… motion in the soul which arises from the sense of well-being and enjoyment and which is devoid of pain and devoid of any fear of danger; such as joy, delight, cheerfulness. (Athenaeus, “Deipnosophistae” 3.11c., fragment 257)
Epicureans believed that the avoidance of pain and its avoidance should be the objective of all actions and should be the basis for living a good life, as this would lead to happiness (hedonia) and freedom from fear.