Suffering and Epicurus

Topics: Suffering, Epicureanism, Epicurus Pages: 4 (1082 words) Published: August 22, 2013
Reading Assignment

Sasha Jade McGinley

PHI110

(SP2 2013)

Open Universities ID: 516616
Macquarie University ID: 43388965

“Letter to Menoeceus”
Word Count: 963

Reading 1:
Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus,” p. 49-50.
What argument does he provide for why we should not fear death? What is the ethical purpose of this argument for how we should live our lives? Do you agree with Epicurus’s views? Why or why not? -------------------------------------------------

Epicurus was a hedonist, a materialist and a consequentialist who strongly believed that in order to attain the good life one must live a pleasant existence free of worry and pain. Through reflection of the concepts in Epicurus’s Letter to Menoeceus this paper will discuss Epicurus’s argument of why ‘death means nothing to us’ (Epicurus 1998a, p.49). In other words, the concept that one should not fear death, which he held to be a state of fear bringing only pain to one’s life. In addition, the notion of applying these concepts for ethical purposes on how one should live their life will be explained. In conclusion, this paper will provide a compelling argument of the reasons why Epicurus’s ideas on being fearless of death did indeed contribute to the alleviation of pain and helped with the pursuit of happiness or ataraxia (peace of mind). Epicurus was a materialist who believed ‘human beings are purely material creatures’ (Epicurus 1998a, p.47), that the human body is complexly composed of atoms and when people die their bodies disintegrate along with their minds. Therefore, Epicurus believed it to be impossible for human beings to experience death. For Epicurus this makes the fear of death completely unnecessary, for ‘what is no trouble when it arrives is an idle worry in anticipation’ (de Botton 2000, p. 59). Epicurus thought that if one were to fear their death, they would only provoke unwanted worry and pain in their life. Furthermore, if one were to live a life with worry and pain,...

References: de Botton, A 2000, The consolations of philosophy, Pantheon Books, New York.
Epicurus, ‘Letter to Menoeceus’, in D Cooper (ed.) 1998a, Ethics: the classic readings, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.
Epicurus, ‘Leading doctrines’, in D Cooper (ed.) 1998b, Ethics: the classic readings, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.
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