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Epicurus And His Theories On Peoples Pursuit Of Happiness

1788 words - 8 pages

"Don't worry; be happy." This phrase is often used as a positive bit of advice to lift one's spirits and cast troublesome worries aside. Who would want to live life constantly in stress and grief caused by ceaseless worrying? Living one's life that way would make no sense, especially when humans, according to Epicurus, seek happiness and only have this life to achieve that goal. A reflection of Epicurus' beliefs can be seen in the simplified motto of "don't worry; be happy." Such a reflection can be drawn from an overview of Epicurus' beliefs; this being simply to put away worries, specifically concerning death, and live this life in true happiness.In pursuit of "the happy life," Epicurus ...view middle of the document...

In the process of seeking pleasures, prudence and judgement must be applied so that one may avoid choosing the pleasures that have the potential to pose harm instead of happiness. Knowledge, therefore, must be sought so that one may have clear discernment in making choices that result in pleasure and not harm, and also true happiness and not just short-lived contentment. One must carefully weigh the pleasures and the pains to avoid seeking immediate self-gratification. Every pleasure is inheritantly good if it is sought with discernment, for it is evil and the means sometimes used to obtain pleasure that are bad. In some instances, the pleasure might be obtained by means of hurting or using others, and if this is the case, then the pleasure is being sought in evil.Having pleasure as the greatest good and source of happiness, it is important for one to recognize that they will not be a happier person if they are just going after momentary pleasures or are trying to avoid temporary pain, because one needs to look at the long term. For example, some pleasures are short-lived, such as eating when hungry or sleeping when fatigued, because they will need to be repeated (physical pleasures); however, others such as learning and seeking truth and knowledge of nature last for the duration of you mind (mental pleasures). Pleasure, as a natural good, then overcomes pain and at times it is necessary to experience the pain to obtain the better pleasure (e.g. training for a sport and being victorious). With knowledge and prudence one would be able to recognize this truth and the belief that philosophy creates the reality of knowledge and pleasure going hand in hand. For with knowledge, one is able to clearly seek pleasures that are long lived and under the beholder's control, where as physical pleasures are short lived and fleeting. Practical wisdom holds the reality of happiness in this life.Not only is having knowledge necessary to bring happiness, but also Epicurus felt that:1. Fundamental to happiness is peace of mind, or tranquility.According to the belief system of Epicurus, the gods are the perfect examples of complete happiness. The gods live completely in tranquility. They have no concerns or pay attention to anything around them or below them for that would disrupt the tranquility which is happiness. Ultimately, the gods live in happiness because they are completely without worries and anxieties to disturb their minds.The gods then, can be looked to as an example or a revered (unattainable) standard for which one can try to model their lives in seeking happiness. It is important to remember, however, that one cannot become in distinct likeness with the gods for they are constituted of eternal compounds that can never be broken apart. Still, the gods can be admired for their ability to maintain tranquility by absolute separation from anxieties. Fears and worries are what keep mortal men drifting in and out of happiness. Two fears that Epicurus...

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