Theories about Diseases and Death --to Mithras. The views expressed in these works I will try to set forth by quoting three of his epistles, in which he has given an epitome of his whole system. I  will also set down his Sovran Maxims and any other utterance of his that seems worth citing, that you may be in a position to study the philosopher on all sides and know how to judge him. The first epistle is addressed to Herodotus and deals with physics ; the second to Pythocles and deals with astronomy or meteorology ; the third is addressed to Menoeceus and its subject is human life. We must begin with the first after some few preliminary remarks 42 upon his division of philosophy. It is divided into three parts--Canonic, Physics, Ethics.
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He studied under Nausiphanes , who followed the teachings of Democritus ,   and later those of Pyrrho ,   whose way of life Epicurus greatly admired. Epicurus came of age at a time when Greek intellectual horizons were vastly expanding due to the rise of the Hellenistic Kingdoms across the Near East. Nonetheless, Epicurus differed from his predecessors on several key points of determinism and vehemently denied having been influenced by any previous philosophers, whom he denounced as "confused".
Instead, he insisted that he had been "self-taught". He then founded a school in Lampsacus before returning to Athens in c. He ordained in his will annual memorial feasts for himself on the same date 10th of Gamelion month.
The hero cult of Epicurus may have operated as a Garden variety civic religion. He was most likely a vegetarian. For I have been attacked by a painful inability to urinate, and also dysentery, so violent that nothing can be added to the violence of my sufferings. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation, counterbalances all these afflictions. And I beg you to take care of the children of Metrodorus , in a manner worthy of the devotion shown by the young man to me, and to philosophy.
Three Epicurus bronze busts were recovered from the Villa of the Papyri , as well as text fragments. Epicurus taught that stories of such punishment in the afterlife are ridiculous superstitions and that believing in them prevents people from attaining ataraxia.
Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. This quotation is often used today at humanist funerals. But in philosophy, delight keeps pace with knowledge. It is not after the lesson that enjoyment comes: learning and enjoyment happen at the same time. Natural and necessary desires include the desires for food and shelter.
These are easy to satisfy, difficult to eliminate, bring pleasure when satisfied, and are naturally limited. Going beyond these limits produces unnecessary desires, such as the desire for luxury foods.
Although food is necessary, luxury food is not necessary. Correspondingly, Epicurus advocates a life of hedonistic moderation by reducing desire, thus eliminating the unhappiness caused by unfulfilled desires. Vain desires include desires for power, wealth, and fame. These are difficult to satisfy because no matter how much one gets, one can always want more. These desires are inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need.
They are not natural and are to be shunned. Asclepiades introduced the friendly, sympathetic, pleasing and painless treatment of patients. He advocated humane treatment of mental disorders, had insane persons freed from confinement and treated them with natural therapy, such as diet and massages. His teachings are surprisingly modern; therefore Asclepiades is considered to be a pioneer physician in psychotherapy, physical therapy and molecular medicine.
This has led some philosophers to think that, for Epicurus, free will was caused directly by chance. Epicurus agreed, and said it is to these last things that praise and blame naturally attach.
For Epicurus, the "swerve" of the atoms simply defeated determinism to leave room for autonomous agency. If Epicurus did write some version of it, it would have been an argument against divine providence, not the existence of deities. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei, 13, God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious , which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils?
Or why does He not remove them? Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Is he able, but not willing? Is he both able and willing? No extant writings of Epicurus contain this argument. Justice, Epicurus said, is an agreement neither to harm nor be harmed, and we need to have such a contract in order to enjoy fully the benefits of living together in a well-ordered society.
Laws and punishments are needed to keep misguided fools in line who would otherwise break the contract. But the wise person sees the usefulness of justice, and because of his limited desires, he has no need to engage in the conduct prohibited by the laws in any case. Laws that are useful for promoting happiness are just, but those that are not useful are not just. Principal Doctrines 31—40 Epicurus discouraged participation in politics, as doing so leads to perturbation and status seeking.
He instead advocated not drawing attention to oneself. Flavius Philostratus , Vita Apollonii 8.
Epicurus: Letter to Menoeceus (Summary)
He studied under Nausiphanes , who followed the teachings of Democritus ,   and later those of Pyrrho ,   whose way of life Epicurus greatly admired. Epicurus came of age at a time when Greek intellectual horizons were vastly expanding due to the rise of the Hellenistic Kingdoms across the Near East. Nonetheless, Epicurus differed from his predecessors on several key points of determinism and vehemently denied having been influenced by any previous philosophers, whom he denounced as "confused". Instead, he insisted that he had been "self-taught".
Diogenes Laertius : The Letter of Epicurus to Herodotus
It is to this last letter that we are interested in now. Indeed, it is, for one, neither too early nor too late, when it comes to ensuring the health of his soul. Besides, whoever said that the time to philosophize is not yet come, or that time is past, like the one that says, in the case of happiness, that his time has not yet come or that it is not. So the young man should, like the old man, philosophize in this way, the second, while aging, rejuvenate the past thanks to the property, because he will devote their gratitude, and the first will be at the same time young and far advanced in years, because he will not fear the future. So be what produces happiness the object of his care, as it is true that, when present, we have everything and that when he is absent, we do everything for it.
Letter to Herodotus
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