Philosophical Comparisons

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Epicurus and Epictetus: Epicureanism and Stoicism

There are several key differences between Epicurus’ and Epictetus’ ethical views, though they both branch for Aristotelian philosophy. One major difference is the focus on their theories. Epicurus believes our ethics exist only because we desire things that give us pleasure. Epictetus, on the other hand, gives a broader view of things we should do to lead a more philosophical life. He stresses the importance of our moral purpose and the control we have over it, and puts less emphasis on pleasures in life.

Epictetus believes in the power of self. Everything that we encounter is to be seen as a choice, to either engage with the awareness that the outcome might be within our own control or avoid knowing the decision was the best we could have made give the situation at hand. A firm believer of stoic ethics, Epictetus maintained that in order to achieve happiness, also termed as eudaimonia, one must engage in virtuous activities. All else are indifferent, such as living the life in accordance with that of nature, either make use of what is provided or accept it’s not within our power to determine the outcome. Furthermore, under stoicism, we are our own masters. And just like the metaphor “life as a play”, we must learn to accept our fate and whatever comes our way. According to Epictetus, all human beings are perfectly free to control their lives and to live in harmony with nature. He firmly believed that all occurrences in life are determined by fate and so we don’t have a control over it. But, we can accept the life’s challenges by staying calm and undisturbed. (Thulasimani)

Epicurus identifies the state of happiness with that of personal pleasure. For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by the absence of pain and fear, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. Epicurus believes that it is important for people to...
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