For and Against Epicureans

Topics: Epicureanism, Logic, Epicurus Pages: 4 (1565 words) Published: April 29, 2006
"Death is nothing to us, has no relevance to our condition, seeing that the mind is mortal". So claimed Lucretius: Roman poet, philosopher and Epicurean. In prolific verse from The Way Things Are, Lucretius denied that death was an evil and suggested that death should not be feared at all. Lucretius' beliefs put him in the same camp as Epicurus, whom he mentions in his verse, making him known as an Epicurean, which I shall define for the purposes of this paper as someone who believes that death is not something to be feared. The opposing camp to this view comprises, among others, Nagel and Williams, who argue that death should be feared. I will discuss and analyze the conflict between several arguments put forth by both parties and conclude which makes the more convincing argument. The central argument to the Epicurean view is probably the most highly contended position. The Epicurean's central argument on why we should not fear death is simply put by Epicurus himself: "Since so long as we exist, death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist." His point is essentially that a bad event can only affect us if we can experience it. If we are dead, we do not exist and cannot experience the event as good or bad. Death cannot be bad for us if we are unable to experience and since we should not fear things which are not bad for us, Epicurus concludes that it is irrational to fear death. Nagel objects strongly to this view. He rejects the idea that a person must experience something for it to be bad for them. He supports this by saying that what happens to a man can include "much that does not take place within the boundaries of his life". One example he cites is that of betrayal at the deathbed. Even if you are unable to experience this betrayal, he claims, it is still bad for you because "the discovery of betrayal makes us unhappy because it is bad to be betrayed- not that betrayal is bad because its discovery makes us unhappy". Simply put, betrayal...
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