Stoic V. Epicurean: the Battle of Moral Theories

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  • Topic: Stoicism, Ethics, Hellenistic philosophy
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  • Published : December 14, 2006
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Stoic v. Epicurean: The Battle of Moral Theories
Peter Calhoun The Coolest Cutter At Camp
After critically analyzing both Stoic and Epicurean moral theories, I found myself intrigued by their different beliefs. I was fascinated by the Epicurean pleasure filled and painless seeking lifestyle. I was also enticed by the teleological beliefs of the Stoics. But there were ideas that Epicurus and Epictetus believed in that led me to criticize both philosophies, the Epicurean views about injustice and death and the Stoic view of duty in particular.

One of the first criticisms I noticed when reading Epicurus was his view of injustice. Epicureans value pleasure above all; in fact, they spend their lives avoiding pain at all times. Epicureans believe that pleasure and virtue are intertwined. Epicurus stated, "virtues are natural adjuncts of the pleasant life and the pleasant life is inseparable from them" (297). The virtuous lifestyle left the Epicurean free from disturbance; whereas the unjust lifestyle brought about much disturbance. This idea is the focus of my criticism. According to Epicurus, living a virtuous life seems paramount to their lifestyle. Yet, he claims that "injustice is not a bad thing in its own right, but only because of the fear produced… of those assigned to punish such actions" (301). In other words, Epicurus believes that committing injustice is only bad if one is caught. After critically analyzing this view, I realized that Gyges would make the perfect Epicurean. His ring would allow him to experience the maximum pleasures of life without being able to be caught. Although the power brought to Gyges seems to be unjust, there is no doubt that an Epicurean would take full advantage of the powerful ring. Indeed, it is plain to see that Epicurus' view on injustice seems to contradict his preaching that pleasure and virtue can not exist without the other.

The egoistic personality of the Epicureans was the foundation for my next criticism. To...
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