Introduction To Epicurean Philosophy

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For my second trip to South America I put 30 books in a duffel bag. One of them was The Essential Epicurus, a collection of works by the Greek philosopher. From Epicurus.net:

Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) founded one of the major philosophies of ancient Greece, helping to lay the intellectual foundations for modern science and for secular individualism. Many aspects of his thought are still highly relevant some twenty-three centuries after they were first taught in his school in Athens, called “the Garden.”

Epicurus’s philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships. His world-view is an optimistic one that stresses that philosophy can liberate one from fears of death and the supernatural, and can teach us how to find happiness in almost any situation. His practical insights into human psychology, as well as his science-friendly world-view, gives Epicureanism great contemporary significance as well as a venerable role in the intellectual development of Western Civilization.

While reading the book I’ll admit that I dozed off while going through his explanations on clouds…

Clouds may be produced and take shape as the result of the compression of air by the forcing together of winds and as the result of the interlacing of atoms that grip one another and are suitable to bringing about this result…

earthquakes…

Earthquakes may result both from the imprisonment of wind inside the earth, and from the earth’s shifting in small masses and its constant movement, which produces the quaking.

and falling stars…

What are called falling stars may be produced partly by the stars’ rubbing against each other and by the falling out of their fragments where a blast of wind occurs…

But I stuck in there and was rewarded in the end was very nice quotes that do provide a blueprint for living. Here are my favorites:

The man who alleges that he is not yet ready for philosophy or that the time for it has passed him by, is like the man who says that he is either too young or too old for happiness.

For there is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living.

Becoming accustomed, therefore, to simple and not luxurious fare is productive of health and makes humankind resolved to perform the necessary business of life.

[The wise man] thinks that it is preferable to remain prudent and suffer ill fortune than to enjoy good luck while acting foolishly.

No pleasure is evil in itself; but the means of obtaining some pleasures bring in theire wake troubles many times greater than the pleasures.

If every pleasure were [maximized] and existed for a long time throughout the entire organism of its most important parts, pleasures would never differ from one another.

Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.

We do not need the help of our friends so much as the confidence that our friends will help us.

Speaking frankly, I would prefer, when discoursing on nature, to utter useful things, like oracles, to humankind, even if no one should understand them, than to agree with popular opinion and enjoy the constant accolades offered by the crowd.

Some men spend their whole life furnishing for themselves the things proper to life without relaizing that at our birth each of us was poured a mortal brew to drink.

The voice of the flesh cries, “Keep me from hunger, thirst, and cold!” The man who has these sureties and who expects he always will would rival even Zeus for happiness.

The wise man who has accustomed himself to the bare necessities knows how to give rather than to receive. So great is the treasure house of self-sufficiency he has discovered.

There is also a limit to frugality. The man unable to consider this suffers a similar end as the man who indulges in excess.

You ought to do nothing in your life that will make you afraid if it becomes known to your neighbor.

The following method of inquiry must be applied to every desire: What will happen to me if what I long for is accomplished? What will happen if it is not accomplished?

If the gods listened to the prayer of men, all human-kind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.

No fool is satisfied with what he has, but instead grieves for what he does not possess.

He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.

Know that what passes for good and evil among the throng if ephermeral, and that wisdom shares nothing in common with fortune.

Many men who acquire wealth do not find deliverance from evils but an exchange of their present evils for greater ones.

My take on his philosophy: peace of mind and confidence can only come from knowledge based on facts, and it’s the prudent application of knowledge that leads to a happy, social life where being poor but wise is preferable to being rich and lucky.

You can read his works for free at Epicurus.net.

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Carl Sagan
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Carl Sagan
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Cool.

I also like Stoic philosophy, which was a rival school of Epicureanism.

Culcept
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Culcept
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This is my favorite of the above quotes:

“Some men spend their whole life furnishing for themselves the things proper to life without realizing that at our birth each of us was poured a mortal brew to drink.”

So many people just don’t see that and waste their entire lives building themselves up. Live now, not later before its too late.

Culcept’s last blog post: “I think we’re moving to fast”.

The Truth
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The Truth
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You should read up Stoic philosophy. Start off with Epictetus…

Thursday
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Thursday
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The great Roman poet Lucretius was a disciple of Epicurus. I recommend the either translation by Rolfe Humphries or Anthony Esolen.

Thursday’s last blog post: Vajazzeled.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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he got it all wrong. God causes earthquakes.

The G Manifesto
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“No pleasure is evil in itself; but the means of obtaining some pleasures bring in theire wake troubles many times greater than the pleasures.”

I like that one.

– MPM

The G Manifesto’s last blog post: New Orleans Bans Ed Hardy.

Giovonny
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Giovonny
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Being able to “talk” philosophy has helped me bang many (around 10-15) girls.

They were usually academic/thinker types.

But you can cast a spell on party/bad girls too with this stuff, if you spit it with a little street twist. Just don’t bring it up unless they do. Otherwise they will think you are too serious and nerdy. Just spit some deep shit and then quickly go back to talking about the new rims you are getting on your car, the new gun you just bought, and why your crazy stripper ex won’t leave you alone.

Matt Savage
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Good stuff and have only recently been delving into the ancient philosophy stuff myself. I have even gotten into Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (about half way through now) and it’s certainly interesting what her thoughts are on things like love and money.

Matt Savage’s last blog post: The Art of Vajazzling.

Willy Wonka
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Good quotes.
I liked this one:
“For there is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living.”

And I laughed a bit at this one, but it’s so true though:
“If the gods listened to the prayer of men, all human-kind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.”

Willy Wonka’s last blog post: Is There a Place for Crushing in Game?.

Casual
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Casual
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Some of my favorites:

“Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempest.”

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

“Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.”

“The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.”

Casual’s last blog post: Love Systems Ultimate Guide to Text and Phone Game.

phillipmarlow
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I went through a pretty big philosophy reading stretch for awhile. Sartre, Baudillard, Frankl, Seneca are a few that stuck out to me. I highly recommend the “Introducing” and “for beginners” books. They are basically illustrated/comics that summarize the philosopher’s life, influence and works.

phillipmarlow’s last blog post: How To Use Jigsaw to Find Your Next Job.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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Hi Roosh, I’d be curious to know what the other 29 books you packed to take along with you were, and your thoughts on those that you have read. I really enjoyed your other posts on books, and it was those plus your posts on life/philosophy that initially drew me to your blog. Cheers

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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8 – Matt Savage:

> ancient philosophers
> Ayn Rand

can you spot the mistake?
the way I see Rand is she came from a communist background and was supremely turned on by rich American capitalists when she went overseas. I don’t like the selfishness of her thoughts.

nice collection of epicurean quotes, roosh. I like how the epicurean “moderation” and the Buddhist “middle way” complement each other so well.

Vincent Ignatius
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You ought to do nothing in your life that will make you afraid if it becomes known to your neighbor.

Very similar to this quote:
Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.
Will Rogers

I’ve found that I get more reading done when traveling. As long as I have pen, paper and a laptop, I can get a ton of work done, and without the distractions of my life here, I can get a lot of reading done as well.

Vincent Ignatius’s last blog post: Captain Cockblock.

.
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i love it when you try to sound like an intellectual.

L'Emmerdeur
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L'Emmerdeur
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You have to admit, it’s pretty cool how close to correct he was on those natural phenomena, in a time when most people attributed such things to the actions of a bunch of immortal jackasses.

traveling boho
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traveling boho
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If you’re into to reading the classics you should check out Juvenal.

It’s satire, not philosophy, but shows that the modern man’s problems with women aren’t really so modern.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/juvenal-satvi.html

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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Though Stoicism was a rival school, the main difference between the two was Stoicism urged participation in the public life of the polis, whereas Epicureanism promoted “retiring” to the country away from the city. They were both conservative in the way of life they advocated for the individual.

Epicureanism is often mischaracterized as an ancient Hedonism but that is absolutely incorrect.

Oh, the Epicureans had more room for free will than the Stoics, though the Stoics did not deny it completely.