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Philosophical School And Traditions – An Introduction To Epicureanism

Epicureanism is a philosophical system based on the philosophy of Epicurus. It emphasizes the goal of content and happy life and does not believe in afterlife or fear of the gods. According to this philosophical school and traditions, one should not long for bodily pleasure and should not give it that much importance.

Epicurus propagates a materialistic view towards the universe. He says that nature comprises matter and space. Further, all matter can be divided into atoms. They are indeed eternal; cannot be created, seen, felt or destroyed. However, they have a shape, size, motion and weight. The atoms perform their functions obeying natural law. So, there is no concept of creation. In Epicurus’ philosophical school and traditions, the soul, too, is made of atoms. Soul and body must be joined in order to give life. After the death of body, soul also dissipates. Therefore, there is no life after death.

This philosophy does accept the existence of the gods and regards them created with atoms. The gods live in a blissful, detached society away from humans. Therefore, there is no room for prayer or providence. According to Epicurus, religion is a source of extreme fear. One needs to reject religion to get peace of mind. Moreover, the sole purpose of life is to obtain mental tranquility, bliss and pleasure. This pleasure is different from self-indulgence or hedonism. It actually promotes the pleasure of the mind, contentment and friendship.

Epicurus’ philosophical school and traditions suggest obtaining the highest quality pleasure. He devised three key criteria to evaluate pleasure i.e. intensity, duration and purity. Intensity denotes the strength of feeling; duration denotes the length of feeling; and purity denotes pleasure with no pain.

One should not binge on food or drink, as it will not increase the purity or duration of pleasure. Epicurus also states that pleasures that kick off with pain are of low quality; you gain pleasure through eating but eating begins with hunger pain. Sex involves pleasure but it begins with the twinge of desire. The perfect pure consist in good health, rest and the company of sincere friends.

Pleasure should not be sought after blindly; therefore, one should not avoid all pain. Oftentimes, tolerating pain can bring more pleasure. Furthermore, since pain and pleasure are measured on quantitative base, pain can be tolerated because pain will bring greater amount of pleasure.

Ataraxia is the highest level of good in Epicurus’ philosophical school and traditions. The tranquility comes in the absence of anxiety. The highest pleasure comes from the company of bona fide friends. It offers shelter to the fearful and provides the real pleasure.

To prevent pain and obtain the greatest pleasure, Epicurus exhorted his faithful disciples to lead secretive and quiet life away from society. He also counseled them to avoid responsibilities of social life or public life. This prevents the pain caused by ambition and fright occasioned by others.

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