Epicurus
(341–270 BC)
Greek philosopher. Epicurus was born on the island of Samos, but moved to Athens in 307/6 BC, where he established a secluded community called the ‘Garden’. His doctrines are known mainly through the account in Diogenes Laertius, and through Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura, which is believed to be a faithful representation of his thought. Epicurus followed the atomistic metaphysics of Leucippus and Democritus, in particular allowing for empty space, an infinite number of atoms, and the infinite number of worlds their changing combinations produce. Epicurus also had a doctrine of the survival of the fittest in order to account for the evolution of species without appeal to the final causes of Aristotle . However, room is made for gods, although they have no concern at all for this cosmos, and in particular play no role either as first causes or as providing ends for existence. Free will is allowed by the ‘swerve’ or clinamen of atoms in their courses. Another interesting doctrine is that of the prolepsis or way in which experience becomes general, by allowing us to anticipate the kind of object to which terms refer (prolepsis is therefore a solution, or perhaps a labelling, of the difficulty that later bedevilled the British empiricists, of how words become general in their significance).
The aim of all philosophy is, however, to enable us to live well, which is not to live in the hedonistic trough the word Epicureanism now suggests, after centuries of propaganda against the system. Rather, practical wisdom, attained through philosophy, is needed to attain the pleasant life, which consists in a preponderance of katastematic pleasures, capable of indefinite prolongation, over merely kinematic or volatile sensory pleasures. Katastematic pleasures are capable of variation but not of increase, so that one who lives longer does not thereby obtain more of them than one who lives less long, and this is important to the Epicurean attitude towards death. As with other Greek ethical philosophies, ataraxia , is the summit of the katastematic pleasures, and requires understanding the limits of life and removal of the fear of death, cultivation of friendships, and the removal of unnecessary desires and false gratifications.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • EPICURUS — Atheniensis, Philosophus Celebris. sil. Neoclis ex Cherecrata, Gargetto oriundus, ex familia Philaidarum, eius sectae auctor, quae ab ea Epicurea, nominata est, Olympiadis 109. anno tertio, septennio post Platonis excessum. Obiit autem ex urinae… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Epicurus — [ep΄ə kyoor′əs] 341 270 B.C.; Gr. philosopher: founder of the Epicurean school, which held that the goal of man should be a life characterized by serenity of mind and the enjoyment of moderate pleasure …   English World dictionary

  • Epicurus — Infobox Philosopher name = polytonic|Έπίκουρος Epikouros |right|thumb|145px|Roman marble bust of Epicurus color = #B0C4DE region = Western philosophy era = Ancient philosophy birth = 341 BCE death = circa 270 BCE school tradition = Epicureanism… …   Wikipedia

  • Epicurus — /ep i kyoor euhs/, n. 342? 270 B.C., Greek philosopher. * * * born 341, Samos, Greece died 270 BC, Athens Greek philosopher. He was author of an ethical philosophy of simple pleasure, friendship, and retirement (see Epicureanism) and a… …   Universalium

  • Epicurus — (c. 341 bc– 270 bc) Greek philosopher Epicurus, who was born on the Greek island of Samos, traveled to Athens when he was about 18 years old, and received military training. He then taught at Mytilene and Lampsacus before returning to Athens (305 …   Scientists

  • Epicurus — Épicure Pour les articles homonymes, voir Epicure (homonymie). Épicure (Ἐπίκουρος) Philosophe Grec Antiquité …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Epicurus — biographical name 341 270 B.C. Greek philosopher …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Epicurus — noun An ancient Greek philosopher, founder of the movement commonly known as Epicureanism …   Wiktionary

  • EPICURUS —    a Greek philosopher, born at Samos, of Athenian origin; settled at Athens in his thirty sixth year, and founded a philosophical school there, where he taught a philosophy in opposition to that of the Stoics; philosophy he defined as an… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • EPICURUS — (341 270 B.C.)    Greek philosopher who cultivated friendship and rejected both SKEPTICISM and IDEALISM in favor of an emphasis on immediate experience. SENSE DATA is the basis of knowledge, the feeling of pleasure, the ultimate GOOD. He taught a …   Concise dictionary of Religion

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