In my last post about philosophy I talked a bit about Stoicism, this time it is time to talk a bit about its counterpart, Epicureanism.
The father of Epicureanism is the ancient Athenian thinker and philosopher Epicurus (341 – 270 BC). In opposition to the philosophers of the time who were obsessed with fate, purpose, and divine intervention, the Epicureans were among the first groups of atheist, they argued it was chance, not the gods, who dictated all things.
They were among the earliest advocates of the theory that the universe is comprised entirely of building blocks called “atoms” (Democritus (460 – 370 BC) named the atom after the Greek word atomos, which means “that which can not be split”), Epicurus and his followers established a philosophy based upon what they understood as the natural world, one without laws handed down by supernatural creatures or divine powers. Storms, earthquakes, famine, disease, and ultimately death were all solely products of a chaotic and disorganized world.
One might call this a very modern way of thinking, as most of us today in western society have a very similar view of the world. But in our present time, science has made the natural world much less chaotic.
Instead of preaching doom and gloom and nihilism, the Epicureans’ response was simply “Why worry?” With no gods to offend and no afterlife to prepare for you might as well enjoy the time you’ve been given. As the great Epicurean poet Lucretius said,
“By protracting life, we do not deduct one jot from the duration of death,” so eat, drink, be merry, and let the chips fall where they may.
The thought that pleasure was the greatest good, and maximizing pleasure during one’s life was the best way of life according to the Epicureans. This is in contrast to the Stoic way of life, the Stoics thought that self-control and delaying short-term gratification in order to achieve better long-term results, was the best way of life. And I must admit that I personally are more of a Stoic than an Epicurean.
But in modern society, the Epicurean way of life has been gaining ground especially among millennials. The widespread use of the acronym YOLO (“you only live once”) exemplifies this point.
“A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean” – Will Durant
In essence, what I believe the great historian Will Durant is trying to tell us is that nations are born by people who worked extremely hard, crossed rivers, built boats and fought wars in order to build civilizations which have houses, agriculture, technology, and other goods for people to enjoy. But when people attain all these materialistic things they tend to get lazy, and just seek to maximize pleasure, and the nation becomes Epicurean, and this is when progress stops.
I am in no way saying that one should not enjoy life, one should, but one should also prepare for tomorrow and strive to improve oneself and our surroundings.http://rubio.no/2016/04/06/philosophy-epicureanism/http://rubio.no/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/epicurus.jpghttp://rubio.no/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/epicurus-300x300.jpgKnowledge