The dangers of joining a political party

Here on the Epicurus Blog, we deviate from Epicurean orthodoxy insofar as we see an interest in politics as not necessarily inadvisable. Provided you don’t become consumed by politics, to the detriment of your social life and cultured activities, politics can be an innocent interest- a bit like physics. Epicurus saw politics as a source …

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Epicurus: the simplest philosopher to understand

Epicurus proposed that we typically make three mistakes when thinking about happiness. 1. People fret if they don’t have a romantic relationship Then, as now, people were obsessed with love. But Epicurus thought that happiness and love (let alone marriage) seldom go together. There is too much jealousy, misunderstanding and bitterness. Sex is always complicated …

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Epicurus and politics

Epicurus was a strong advocate for the idea that people should reach and carry out agreements and promote fellowship and common sense cooperation. This implied a contractual form of government. Epicurus and his followers disapproved of agitation for social change because they saw political struggle as creating unnecessary stress. On the contrary, they advocated civic …

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City vs Country- an Epicurean perspective

Here in the English speaking world, we’re all familiar of the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse: the city mouse invites the country mouse to his house. While containing riches beyond the country’s mouse’s dreams, it also contains terrifying dangers, like the cat. In the end, the country mouse decides his own …

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Epicurus and Christianity

Another one of my Modern Philosophy posts. I hope I speak with some authority on this one, having been brought up in an Evangelical Christian home, attended church regularly for eighteen years, and familiarised myself with the key tenets of Christian doctrine. Having already written about Islam, I hope to complete an analysis of the …

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The benefits of compassion

In Chapter 7 of the Art of Happiness the Dalai Lama defines compassion as a “state of mind that is nonviolent, non-harming, and non-aggressive”. This feeling of compassion is broken down into two types. First is compassion associated with attachment. Using this type of compassion alone is biased and unstable, causing certain emotional attachments that …

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Cicero on Epicureanism

Cicero’s “On Ends”, his narrative on key aspects of Epicurean philosophy: – Pleasurable living is the goal of life. Epicurus held that this is established by observation that all young animals pursue pleasure and avoid pain, and that these matters are so clear to us that no logical argument is needed to prove them. – …

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Epicurus and the pleasant life

From the Vatican documents on Epicureanism VS. 5. It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is lacking, when, for instance, the man is not able to live wisely, …

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A world of ever-increasing complexity

There was an article in The Guardian Weekly  in early January pointing out that our lives are more scrambled and complicated than they have ever been.  The writer, John Harris, called modernity “a mess: multiple user accounts, endless password filling in, smartphone contracts, computer and internet problems that so few of us really understand” and …

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The roots of fascism

In her book called Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, Hannah Arendt wrote the following about Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Franco: “In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached a point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true….The totalitarian mass leaders …

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Just basic good manners: No. 1 of 2 posts on healthcare

A letter arrived from a doctor telling me it was time to make an appointment for a check-up.  The problem was that the last time I saw the doctor he told me “come back in five years time” . That was exactly a year before. But when I called I was told to hang on….and …

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Epicurean therapy for anger (last part) – see other two parts below

Philodemus, writing about therapies for anger, explains that the furious and the chronically angry can not advance in philosophy. A commitment to themselves, to their ataraxia, and to cognitive therapy is necessary live a pleasant life. One of the treatments used by Philodemus and other philosophers was called “seeing before the eyes”. In this technique, …

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Philodemus on irrational anger (second part)

Chronic Anger and Rage Yesterday I dealt with the Epicurean idea of justified anger. The next two forms of anger are pathological and represent a loss of reason, that is, they are irrational (even if sometimes they have natural beginnings). The second type of anger is chronic or addictive anger. This is not natural, but …

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Epicureanism: Philodemus on anger (first part)

This is rather long, but I thought some actual Epicurean teachings might be a change. (I have split it into three postings for the sake of digestability). Phildemus was an Epicurean who wrote, among other things, about anger. There was a huge contrast between the Stoic and Epicurean schools. Stoics idealized apathy (or lack of …

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