As the roots of history have it, in the sixth century Emperor Justinian had all of the schools of philosophy which competed with Christianity eventually closed. This was the last we heard of the Epicurean School, whose heritage had stayed culturally vibrant for seven centuries.
It was among the first to indicate that the atom-2,300 years ago-the social contract as a basis for the rule of law, and the prospect of an empirical process of pursuit of happiness: a science of happiness. These innovative schools were oases of tranquility, motive and enjoyment called Gardens, in which the ideals of budding friendship prospered and men, women and even slaves engaged in philosophical discourse as equals.If any set of doctrines could be considered the basis of the Epicurean doctrine, it would be the Tetrapharmakon: the Four Remedies.
For didactic purposes, the teachings have been imparted in the kind of brief, easy to incorporate adages. There are, to be honest, many over four treatments in Epicureanism. In his Principal Doctrines 11-12, Epicurus argued for the analysis of science as a means to emancipate ourselves from irrational fears.
For naturalists who do not believe in spirits or gods, the first two negative statements might be translated as’Don’t fear chance or blind fortune, for it’s pointless to battle that which we don’t have any control over. It creates unnecessary suffering’. Roman Epicurean poet Lucretius, in his De Rerum Natura, dedicates long parts of the philosophical poem to describing how natural phenomena like lightning and the motions of heavenly bodies aren’t the job of the Gods and that fear of the Gods is inconsistent with civilized life.
Since he had been unable in these days to create a fully scientific theory to explain these phenomena, he provided several possible theories for a lot of them without advocating one, and humbly confessed that future thinkers would demonstrate the key points of his naturalist and scientific cosmology, which they finally did. And so we can say that his fundamental attitude was a sound one, and that he respected our intellect enough not to exhibit arrogance and certainty where he didn’t have conclusive theories.
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The prohibition against dreading the Gods, and against fear-based faith in general, is the first and primary taboo in Epicurean philosophy, stays refreshing to this day. The second remedy is elaborated in a series of teachings and aphorisms which function as a kind of cognitive therapy to deal with the trauma of passing. Among them, the most memorable is that the only hedonistic one. Death is nothing to us, because when we are, death hasn’t come, and when death has come, we’re not. There’s also the equilibrium argument, which contrasts the time after our death to the time before our arrival of which we don’t have any memory.
Since there’s nothing there, why fear it? It’s as unintelligent to be tormented about the afterlife because it is to be tormented about the condition before birth. I often argue that it was not only the teachings, but the way they had been imparted -within the context of a loving community of philosopher friends- which served as a consolation and it is not possible to replicate the serenity and certainty that Epicurus gave humanity with this feeling of community.
The latter two positive statements from the Tetrapharmakon lead to Epicurean instructions on how we should evaluate our needs and identify which ones are unnecessary versus which ones are essential, which ones take pain when fulfilled or disregarded versus which ones do not. By this analytical process, one learns to be satisfied with the simple pleasures in life, those easiest to achieve and which take little to no pain. It’s here that the real fruits of Epicurean penetration start to be reaped. The best things in life are free.
One of the first psychological activities of each Epicurean is to become mindful of their desires and whatever pain or anxiety that they may be generating. Another task is to learn how to relish and appreciate the easy things when they are in front of us. The great friends, the great foods and the refreshing drinks, the household, the fantastic music, our proximity to nature, our view of the sky which (as Carl Sagan advised us) should always humble us.
The good news, according to Epicurus, is that happiness is easily achieved when we cultivate doctrine. He cites the need for thankfulness and for strong friendships as basic ingredients for the fantastic life, and not just categorizes desires but also discerns between kinetic (busy ) delights that occur when we meet a desire, and katastemic (inert) delights that occur when we don’t have any desires to meet, which he labeled as exceptional. Harvard psychologist and happiness writer Dan Gilbert affirms Epicurus’ insights, such as how significant connections significantly increase the amount of enjoyment and of memorable experiences that we collect throughout our lifetime.
He uses different verbiage: natural happiness is that attained when we meet a desire (kinetic enjoyment, in Epicurean parlance) whereas artificial pleasure is what we enjoy no matter attaining needs (katastemic pleasure). Because synthetic happiness requires no externals, thus, it is superior, it’s a sign of a free being. He argues the case for artificial pleasure by citing the example of the lottery winner and the paraplegic who exhibit similar levels of pleasure one year after winning the lottery and losing the lower limbs, respectively.
These cases were studied by pleasure researchers Brickman et al.. In positive psychology, has been called the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation: the habitual happy state that we always return to. Methods are being researched to improve the heights which are normal for each person. Gilbert’s theories, so far as I’m concerned, are Epicureanism by a different title.
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Among the components of Epicurean instructing that philosophers have struggled with the most throughout history is the concept of katastemic pleasure. It’s frequently argued that lack of pain isn’t a definition of pleasure, but this is the art of joy which Epicurus taught: that we have to learn to be happy regardless of outside factors and that it is possible and desirable to cultivate katastemic joys through the philosophical areas. In actuality, Epicurus asserts that the very purpose of philosophy is to guarantee an end to suffering and to make a gorgeous, happy,
pleasant lifestyle. Gilbert’s research upholds katastemic pleasure as a essential ingredient in human happiness and is starting to reinvigorate the discourse on the philosophy of happiness which Epicurus had started, and which was interrupted by Justinian 1,500 decades back. He also adds new concepts to our science of happiness and even suggests that we have a mental immune system which fights unhappy moods. Gilbert’s findings, together with research handling wellbeing in fields like neuroscience and diet, point modern Epicureans at the direction of an interdisciplinary, practical reinvention of doctrine, which is precisely what we need if doctrine is to become once more the revolutionary, emancipatory cultural engine it once was.
Concerning the Fourth Remedy, Epicurus reminded us of the temporal character of bodily pain. We may find a fever, or a stomach ache, but in days our immune system struggles. In the event of chronic pains, one gets used to them after some time. In nature, no condition lasts indefinitely. The impermanence of all conditions is a consolation once we think about whatever pain they create. A dismissive attitude towards pain takes discipline but it can be cultivated if we’re mindful, disciplined, and produce a resolve to protect our minds. Then there are psychological pains and anxiety. These are worked through via cognitive therapy.
The resolution to follow Epicurus is a resolution to safeguard one’s mind. It’s impossible to be happy if we can not control our anger and other strong emotions: we’ll go from one perturbed country to another and never taste the equilibrium of ataraxia, which translates as imperturbability and is the best maturity that a philosopher could achieve. We are living in a dysfunctional consumerist society full of stress and neuroses, where few folks analyse their life, most have a short attention span and are usually uninterested in disciplining their heads and controlling mindless desires. If doctrine is known as the Epicureans understand that, then it becomes evident that people desperately want philosophy today. Many more things could be said about the consolations of Epicurean philosophy. I leave my readers with an invitation to examine Epicurus and participate others and themselves in philosophical discourse. I promise your life will be enriched.