Epicureanism is personal

Even as we find personal comfort in knowing that there is nothing to fear in death, that the gods do not choose our fate, and that real happiness is possible living life here on earth, many of us face fear and anxiety worrying about the future of our relatives and friends, children and grandchildren in a world spinning out of control and ever more authoritarian.

The philosophy of Epicurus can show the way forward to both personal and community happiness. Epicurean philosophy was not defeated because it was wrong, but because having the right ideas is never sufficient for living successfully. Living successfully requires action, and as the years went by in the ancient world, those who fought for Epicurean ways of life did not develop the actions required to stem the tide of mysticism and skepticism.

I personally cannot claim that I live a perfect, Epicurean life. For one thing epicureanism means reducing stress as much as possible, which I find very difficult. Anything to do with technologogy, for a start, is very stressful, not to mention never-ending. Life seems to be all about profit, not about the customer, and maybe it always was. But I do enjoy living a pleasant, creative life with someone I love, trying to be patient, kind and thoughtful to everyone, keeping a sense of humour, and, by being polite and considerate, hopefully setting a certain standard of behaviour. Actually, it is an old standard of behaviour – as society has coarsened so has this behaviour seems increasingly old-fashioned. Good! Let it be so regarded, as long as it is adopted, one convert at a time. I give myself about 6 out of 10 for epicureanisn. This isn’t very good for someone publically espousing it. Maybe, following this post, I might hear from someone who can claim to do better, and they will tell us all how and why?

Other people may devise a way to action of a more vigorous, less personal nature, reaching a wider audience. I hope so.

(* Given the unpleasantness and wasted time visited on us all by big, faceless companies and their half-trained employees)

One Comment

  1. I totally agree. Epicureanism is all about moderation, particularly with regards to consumption. Although I live a fairly austere lifestyle: I don’t own a car or live in a large house, but I think I still eat too much meat despite my efforts to cut down, and I love going on a shopping binge every now and again. So on the whole I’m about 5 out of 10. It’s hard to be an Epicurean at university because of the stress of exams and the problems that face many of your friends. On the one hand it would be uncaring to ignore the worries of others. But at the same time, allowing their problems to consume your life gives you difficulties you aren’t responsible for.
    Having said that, perhaps there is a need for a more assertive Epicureanism. As you right point out, the world is becoming more authoritarian. The wellbeing of individual is disregarded in favour of what is purported to be the good of the nation, when in reality only a small group of privileged elites reap the rewards. Perhaps we who believe in a free and equitable society ought to resist this trend. Not with violence at all. But we certainly ought to publish our ideas, and employ peaceful persuasion to make others see the folly of their ways. However old fashioned it may appear to some, a lively chat over some good food and wine, can win more people over than it may initially appear. Above all else, we must be pleasant. The moment we employ the coarseness of language and absolutist mentality of our adversaries, is the moment we relinquish any moral authority.

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