Roman Philosophy: Epicurus: Born on island of Samos, c. 341 b.c. Taught in various cities, settled in Athens in 306 b.c. Set up school, surrounded by worshipful students, but still lived simply, ate plain food, enjoyed conversation with friends the most.
Epicureanism: Purpose of life is for each individual to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. What would be the problem with this goal?
“Egocentric hedonism.” Better to seek moderate pleasures than violent ones with “kick backs,” adverse after effects.
Would Epicurus have chosen to get drunk?
Distinguished natural from unnatural desires: Need to eat, but didn’t need to eat caviar. W.T. Jones: “The unnatural desires are a bottomless pit that the wise man will not attempt to fill.”
Problem: Should certain actions be done because they are good despite they bring no pleasure? The self-sacrificing soldier, the older rich man who avoids divorce when could abandon old wife for a younger model. No place for honor, integrity.
Achilles in Illiad: “Let me die forthwith and be avenged on my enemy, rather than survive a laughing-stock and a burden on earth.” Would Epicurus agree?
Repose: Mental peace objective. Corresponds with people withdrawing from society/politics since can’t control everything or influence it much. So many give up, withdraw from competition.
How gain it: Eliminate fear of death and fear of divine intervention. Naturalism.
Atomism: shows no soul, no personal identity survives death. Since death ends only sensation, not to be feared. Science valuable only in ending worry about death, the gods.