20 01 2009

In the sense that irritations sometimes do me good. They tend to cause me to bring forth pearls — if not of wisdom, at least of interest.

Today in his inaugural address Barack Obama (whom I admire) explicitly dissed “those who prefer leisure over labor”. My feelings were hurt! I most definitely prefer leisure over labor, so long, at least, as the leisure is leavened with learning.

Seeking learning, I looked up Epicurianism on Wikipedia. I expected to find that famous and ancient school of philosophy to be almost congruent with my basic attitude toward life, but incapable of justifying my love of quiet leisure, because I thought Epicureanism exalted sensual pleasures, most of which I never had a sufficiency of, due first to poverty, then illness.


Please stick around long enough to read this quote:

Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. 341–c. 270 BC), founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. …Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia) through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires. The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from “hedonism” as it is commonly understood.”

OMG, said I, Mr. Epicurus you just described my lifelong philosophy to a “T”!

So I hereby declare myself to be an Epicurean. I might add that since I have never seen the slightest evidence that we survive death, at least as our own sweet selves, it makes sense to try to find a way to live pleasantly, while we live.



“Epicureanism emphasizes the neutrality of the gods, that they do not interfere with human lives. …

The Riddle of Epicurus or Epicurean paradox is the earliest known description of the Problem of evil, and is a famous argument against the existence of an all-powerful and providential God or gods. As recorded by Lactantius:

God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak — and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful — which is equally foreign to god’s nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?[1]”




One response

20 01 2009

I think you may find that Gary Null is an excellent proponent of epicureanism according to most of this description.

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