April 16, 2018 - mh9868a
Epicurus’s Moral Theory
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher who wrote moral and philosophical ethics. In his essays, Letter to Menoeceus and Principal Doctrines, Epicurus writes that happiness and pleasure are key to living a good life. In Principal Doctrines, he writes that if you live with happiness and pleasure, then you will have a healthy soul. In fact, he argues that it does not matter if you do not find pleasure in life right all the time because, “no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul.” Furthermore, he argues that if you live by his definition of a good life, then death should not matter, and you should not worry about it. Similarly, in Letter to Menoeceus, his stoic moral theory talks about living live with virtue and happiness. Thus, Epicurus’s views on pleasure are the basis for entire moral and ethical theory.
According to Epicurus, pleasure is necessary for living a happy life. That is, in Letters to Menoeceus he writes that humans feel pleasure when they fulfill two different types of desire. The first type of desire is natural desire which rids the body of unpleasant feelings such as hunger and thirst. Epicurus says that, although you need feelings like hunger and thirst to survive, when you are freed from these discomforts, then you feel pleasure and, therefore, are happy. Additionally, the second type of desire is groundless pleasure which we do not necessarily need to survive. Groundless desire are those you get from more vain feelings such as the desire for money. You think that when you accumulate more money, you will also increase your personal pleasure and your personal happiness. However, Epicurus argues that this idea is untrue because no amount of money will bring true pleasure. Therefore, pleasure from natural desires are the foundation for Epicurus’s moral theory on virtue and happiness.
Epicurus’s moral theory is centered around understanding natural and philosophical science by living the most pleasurable and happy life as possible. That is, Epicurus’s moral theory states that happiness is the motivation for everything you do in life. As mentioned, happiness depends on the pleasure you are able to find in your life. Epicurus writes that, “for this reason we call pleasure the alpha and omega of a happy life.” Therefore, since you live your life filled with happiness, Epicurus writes that you do not need to worry about death because your life was filled with joy. With death comes eternal nothingness, but this should not be fearful because of the fulfilling joy you found during your finite lifetime. Overall, he writes that his moral theory on happiness means living a true, happy life comes living a simple life free from vain desires.
I agree with Epicurus’s moral theory because I also believe that life is driven by happiness and pleasure. Basically, his moral theory and ideas on pleasure read like a modern day self-help book. His writings are all about how to live the best live you can possibly live. While there are certain aspects of my life that make my unhappy, I certainly do not live my life to be intentionally miserable. Rather, I do everything I can to live a pleasurable life. That is, I actively try to do activities I enjoy such as playing with my dog or going for walks outside. I also actively try to fulfill my natural hunger and thirst desires by drinking a lot of water and eating my favorite foods. That way, I can find pleasure and live by Epicurus’s definition of a good life. However, I disagree with his idea on not fearing death. I do fear death mostly because I fear what I do not understand. If Epicurus’s idea of eternal nothingness is correct, then I do not agree with the idea that I should not fear death because I lived a good life on Earth. No matter how great and pleasurable my life is, I think death is still a very natural phenomenon to fear. Overall, I mostly agree with Epicurus and his ideas of happiness and pleasure surrounding his moral theory.
Epicurus. Principal Doctrines. LULU Press, 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=9906DwAAQBAJ.
Hicks, R.D. Letter to Menoeceus: Epicurus. Epicurus Series. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=niE2vgAACAAJ.