Epicurus, the son of Neocles and Chaerestrata was born in the year 341 B.C. He was brought up in Samos, an island in the Mediterarian Sea, before moving to Athens in 323 B.C at the age of eighteen. According to available information on Epicurus, it is claimed that on arrival to Athens he lived with his father in Colophon, currently called Turkey. During this time he studied philosophy under the guardianship of a Democritean philosopher, Nausiphanes. After studies, Epicurus went on to draw his primary works on Metaphysics, Epistemology, and ethics. It is believed that Epicurus started his philosophical teaching to the public in by 311B.C at the island of Lesbos.

However, after some few years, he returned to Athens were he conducted extensive philosophical teaching for the rest of his life. From the existing information, it is claimed that he engaged most of his teaching in a garden outside the city. Due to his intrinsic philosophical approach to the relationship between life and the physical world, he was identified as the leader of a unique community at the Garden which comprised of men and women. He died of kidney stones in the year 270 B.C. Nevertheless, his community continued to treat Epicureanism as a philosophical movement.

Among his teaching, Epicurus believed in the existence of god. According to him god is a being who lives in a state of bliss and is immortal. Therefore, it is a contradiction for any individual who accepts with this fact to associate the gods with any non-immortal things as well as not being consistent of a state of bliss. Also claimed by Epicurus is that it negates our perception of the gods if we ask them what we can procure through our human efforts. According to his teaching, it is illogical for human beings to associate dreams with divine or prophetic power.

Another teaching by Epicurus was on pleasure. From the teaching of Epicurus some forms of desire lack no foundation. This meant that whether such desires are natural, they might not be necessary for our realization of a life free from pain and fear. Therefore, it is upon an individual to evaluate the type of desire they have as even of the necessary desires, some are important for us to live, others are crucial for realizing happiness in life, while others necessary to get rid of body distress. Thus, to achieve pleasure, we should not forget the nature of our individual humanity.

Epicurus also gave a philosophical approach on the importance of friendship. Epicurus believed that the most important thing in life is to have friends as it insures happiness throughout our life. We should show equal gratefulness to our friends irrespective of whether present of absent for Epicurus asserted that sweet is the clear memory of a dead friend. This is because, though friendship stem from the need to help, neither can a friend continuously ask for help nor can they shun to help.

On the question of death, Epicurus asserted that it does not affect either the living or the dead. This is because the meaning of good and bad by mankind is dictated by our awareness. However, death is by the ultimate understanding of man the loss of all awareness. This means that by appreciating that death does not affect us, we stand to enjoy our life much better by not wishing or fearing of immortality. Death only come when we do not exist and never when we are living, a factor that according to Epicurus makes death nothing to us.

Still, Epicurus gave a metaphysical understanding of atoms, the mind and the universe. Atoms according to Epicurus do have shape, weight, and size. They are the only element of matter that should remain intact after decomposing or destruction of compounds. Universe on the other side should be understood as infinite by virtual of the multitude of atoms it contains and the extent of its space. Just like the universe, the human mind was taught as a collection of finite particles which are well distributed to the whole body structure. That is why we have sensation and feelings from the mind.

Another important philosophical teaching by Epicurus was on wealth, pain and happiness. Man should seek for bread and water as they give pleasure to the body. According to him great wealth is just but poverty as the level of happiness and satisfaction we need is never defined by the level of wealth we have. Happiness should be understood as that which is under our humanly control. Engaging in searching for happiness in undertakings which are beyond our powers can only serve to bring pain in our lives. Therefore, man should only strive to ensure sustainable security from hunger, thirst and cold.

Other issues addressed by Epicurus are independence and prudence. It is illogical for man either to count certainty or despair of the uncertainty of the future. Therefore, one must live of their youth while taking care of the misfortune brought by clamoring desires. Epicurus concluded that the most important form of independence should be freedom. On prudence, Epicurus claimed that no one should claim of being clever than another. This is because the scope of good thing is usually limited and chances are never constant. Such have the implication that we always act from our freedom, only to take responsibility of the blames of praises of our actions.


Post a Comment