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Epicurus Deserves A 21st Century Scientific Award

1469 words - 6 pages

Epicurus began with no life on the tiny island of Samos in the grand Aegean Sea. He was born on February 341BCE as the second of four brothers to two poor cleruchs, shamed Athenian citizens who settled on Greek territories. Epicurus’ early childhood may have brought him to distraught, but his philosophies made it seem as though he had lived his entire life in the grand palace of Alexander the Great. Epicurus’ main focus was on maximum pleasure, which, according, to him, was only achievable through removal of all pain. This pain was not only present in the body but also in the mind and soul as well, defining pleasure to a greater extent that reached out to friendships and ideals as well. Epicurus grew up during the Hellenistic period, a time when Alexander the Great conquered Greece, the Persian Empire, and Egypt and spread the Greek culture far to the east. This time period was also a time of great philosophical evolution, making Epicurus lucky to be a philosopher at the time. Epicurus’ second most important concept was that of the atomic swerve. He did not believe in fate because it was a determined and inescapable path for humans, so instead, by the influence of Democritus’ atomic system, Epicurus created the atomic swerve, or the “clinamen”, a concept where atoms swerved out of their determined paths to allow some chance into the future. This was an approach with physics which is widely accepted in today’s scientific world – the science of the 21st century. Epicurus lived in Greece in the 3rd century BCE and his theories were based off of philosophies created even before his time, making them seemingly irrelevant to today’s contemporary world. However, the views of modern physics and psychology support Epicurus’ theories of pleasure and atomic swerve which were influenced by many schools of teaching, especially that of Democritus.
The basis of Epicurus’ concept of atomic swerve originated from the atomic system of Democritus, who lived in Greece from 460-370 BCE. Epicurus received elementary philosophical education as a child on the teachings of Plato, and then moved on to a more serious study with several schools and teachers such as ones from the Lyceum founded by Aristotle and the Aristotelian Praxiphanes (Cook). Epicurus was not comfortable with the teachings from the Aristotelian Lyceum, so he moved on to study the atomic system of Democritus (Cook). Epicurus began philosophical education as a child with the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, but found it less reasonable than that of Democritus’ atomic system, which was a more materialistic view of the construction and changing factors on earth. “Epicurus argued especially against Nausiphanes, saying ‘They can go to Hades; when working slavishly with an idea, he too bragged like a Sophist’” (Timocrates). Because of Epicurus’ high capacity of original thinking, he and Nausiphanes, his mentor in Democritean teachings, broke up after a long period of personal quarrel (Cook). Even though...

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