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The Art of Happiness (Penguin Classics) av…
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The Art of Happiness (Penguin Classics) (utgåvan 2012)

av Epicurus (Författare)

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The brilliant writings of a highly influential Greek philosopher, with a foreword by Daniel Klein, author of Travels with Epicurus The teachings of Epicurus--about life and death, religion and science, physical sensation, happiness, morality, and friendship--attracted legions of adherents throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and deeply influenced later European thought. Though Epicurus faced hostile opposition for centuries after his death, he counts among his many admirers Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, and Isaac Newton. This volume includes all of his extant writings--his letters, doctrines, and Vatican sayings--alongside parallel passages from the greatest exponent of his philosophy, Lucretius, extracts from Diogenes Laertius' Life of Epicurus, a lucid introductory essay about Epicurean philosophy, and a foreword by Daniel Klein, author of Travels with Epicurus and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.… (mer)
Medlem:alexander0311
Titel:The Art of Happiness (Penguin Classics)
Författare:Epicurus (Författare)
Info:Penguin Classics (2012), Edition: Reissue, 251 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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The Art of Happiness (Penguin Classics) av Epicurus

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So many treasures have been lost over the years, and that is quite apparent when reading what little remains of Epicurus' works, collected in this very nice Penguin Classics volume. Included here are the Letter to Herodotus, Letter to Pythocles (which may not have been written by Epicurus, but was certainly written by a follower of his philosophy), and the Letter to Menoecceus, along with a collection of his sayings (referred to as Leading Doctrines in this volume) and a collection of aphorisms which were discovered in the Vatican in 1888. Those five sources are all that remains of the works of Epicurus, who was known to be a prolific writer.

There is more in this book though, as Penguin Classics always include additional material and notes from scholars, and this one is no exception. There is a wonderful introduction by George K. Strodach, and they have included passages from Lucretius' "The Nature of Things" which add to the material contained in the three letters. I would recommend also getting the Penguin Classic version of "The Nature of Things" as the latter is the most complete exponent of Epicurus' philosophy. Also included are some Excerpts from the Life of Epicurus, by Diogenes Laertius. ( )
  dave_42 | Feb 16, 2019 |
Epicurean (n) Ἐπικούρειος
ˌɛpɪkjʊ(ə)ˈriːən

1. A disciple or student of the Greek philosopher Epicurus.
2. A person devoted to sensual enjoyment, especially that derived from fine food and drink. ✗ (See Cyrenaic)
__________
"Thus when I say that pleasure is the goal of living I do not mean the pleasures of libertines or the pleasures inherent in positive enjoyment, as is supposed by certain persons who are ignorant of our doctrine or who are not in agreement with it or who interpret it perversely. I mean, on the contrary, the pleasure that consists in freedom from bodily pain and mental agitation. The pleasant life is not the product of one drinking party after another or of sexual intercourse with women and boys or of the sea food and other delicacies afforded by a luxurious table. On the contrary, it is the result of sober thinking—namely, investigation of the reasons for every act of choice and aversion and elimination of those false ideas about the gods and death which are the chief source of mental disturbances." —Letter to Menoeceus

"Think about these and related matters day and night, by yourself and in company with someone like yourself. If you do, you will never experience anxiety, waking or sleeping, but you will live like a god among men. For a human being who lives in the midst of immortal blessings is in no way like mortal man!" —Letter to Meneoceus

"But those who have not fully committed themselves emotionally to these matters cannot properly view them as they are, nor have they grasped the purpose and the need for studying them." —Letter to Pythocles

__________
When you arrive at Epicurus' Gardens, and see what is written there:

Here, guest, will you be well entertained: here pleasure is the highest good—

—Seneca, Letter 21.9
__________
It is a great shame that rival philosophical schools heard the term pleasure and immediately interpreted the word as sensual delight, forever corrupting Epicurus' philosophy and the term Epicurean, and misleading anyone not caring to examine the philosophy for themselves.

Epicurus' ethical hedonism is laid out in the Letter to Menoeceus, Leading Doctrines, and the Vatican Collection of Aphorisms. There is much to be gained by applying certain aspects to one's own life, and are a great complement to Seneca's Letters, Cicero's Philosophical Works, and Montaigne's advocation for the cultivation of the self.
__________
As well as his system of ethics, Epicurus expanded on contemporary atomist theories, forwarding the notion that all matter is composed of indivisible atoms, and proposing the notion of Atomic Swerve, to allow for free-will.

These theories are interesting to read,

". . . yet the question of the best way to live remained Epicurus' fundamental consideration. His theories about the composition of matter, causation, perception, truth, and knowledge, are all in service of this ultimate concern."

Epicurus advocated an understanding of science, and believed that only through the study of Natural Philosophy could certain fears and delusions regarding the gods be eliminated; one could achieve mental peace by understanding the fundamental workings of the world in which we live, and therefore be freed from the false belief that the gods were behind all, intervening when and according to their wishes and whims.

"It is impossible to get rid of our anxieties about essentials if we do not understand the nature of the universe and are apprehensive about some of the theological accounts. Hence it is impossible to enjoy our pleasures unadulterated without natural science." —Leading Doctrines, 12

"With the Epicureans it was never science for the sake of science but always science for the sake of human happiness."
__________
Epicurus' extant works are sadly not very numerous. They consist of three letters, and two collections of aphorisms:

• Letter to Herodotus
• Letter to Pythocles
• Letter to Menoeceus
• Leading Doctrines
• Vatican Collection of Aphorisms*

This Penguin edition presents all the above works, (~50pp.), with parallel passages from Lucretius' epic poem On the Nature of Things (accompanied with lucid commentary from the translator) presented after each letter. Also included is an excerpt from Diogenes Laërtius' Life of Epicurus, as well as an extensive seven-part introduction (77pp.[!]), and detailed notes.

The translation is excellent, and all in all, a great copy of Epicurus' writings.

*This edition contains 33 of the 81 aphorisms in the Vatican Collection. A large amount overlap with the Leading Doctrines, but some do not. Complete collections can easily be found online (eg. Here and here).
__________
These splendid sayings of Epicurus also serve another purpose which makes me even more willing to mention them. They prove to those people who take refuge in him for base motives, thinking to find cover for their faults, that they need to live honourably no matter where they go. When you arrive at Epicurus' Gardens, and see what is written there:

Here, guest, will you be well entertained: here pleasure is the highest good—

then the keeper of that house will be ready to receive you and, being hospitable and kind, will serve you a plate of porridge and a generous goblet of water and say to you, "Is this not a fine welcome?" "These gardens," he will say, "do not stimulate appetite; they appease it. They do not give drinks that make one thirstier, but quench thirst with its natural remedy, which comes free of charge. This is the pleasure in which I have lived to old age."

I am speaking to you now of those desires that are not alleviated by soothing speech, desires that must be given something to put an end to them. For about those superfluous desires that can be put off, rebuked, or suppressed, I remind you only of this: such pleasure is natural but not necessary. You do not owe it anything: anything you do devote to it is voluntary. The belly does not listen to instructions: it merely demands and solicits. Still, it is not a troublesome creditor. You can put it off with very little, if you just give it what you owe rather than what you can.


—Seneca, Letter 21.9-11
__________
But now I must make an end; and as has become my custom, I must pay for my letter. This will be done, but not on my own charge. I am still plundering Epicurus, in whose work I today found this saying:

"You should become a slave to philosophy, that you may attain true liberty."


—Seneca, Letter 8.7
__________
"Sex has never benefitted any man, and it's a marvel if it hasn't injured him!" —Epicurus, Leading Doctrines, 51 ( )
  EroticsOfThought | Feb 27, 2018 |
I found this book quite perplexing. I expected a hedonistic discussion of the life of reading, conversation, and communal living. Instead, I was learning about atomic theory and the atomic "swerve" (a way to explain randomness in the universe and the subsequent collision of atoms), the logic of the sun, moon,stars, and weather, and the need to be ever-vigilant to ignore the popular gods and to rely on empirical evidence rather than determinism (fate) and mythology to comprehend the otherwise unknown. The letters to Herodotus and Pythocles were all about such concepts, with only the letter to Menoeceus even touching upon the concept of happiness. I was surprised by the depth of the logos of Epicurean thought, and the loftiness of its ideals when compared to Stoic philosophy. Physics was originally known as natural philosophy, and out Epicurus' understanding of the universe (based on the ideas of others and not just his own, of course), led to an anti-religious philosophy. Yet God is not absent in Epicurean thought. In the "Leading Doctrines" (pp. 174-5), Epicurus explains: 10. If the things that produce the debauchee's pleasures dissolved the mind's fears regarding the heavenly bodies, death, and pain and also told us how to limit our desires, we would never have any reason to find fault with such people, because they would be glutting themselves with every sort of pleasure and never suffer any physical or mental pain, which is the real evil. 11. We would have no need for natural science unless we were worried by apprehensiveness regarding the heavenly bodies, by anxiety about the meaning of death, and also by our failure to understand the limitations of pain and desire. 12. It is impossible to get rid of our anxieties about essentials if we do not understand the nature of the universe and are apprehensive about some of the theological accounts. Hence it is impossible to enjoy our pleasures unadulterated without natural science. For Epicurus, pleasure is the opposite of pain, rather than the charges of "high living" and debauchery laid by competing philosophies and later, Christianity. To be sure, "moral good" is pleasure, and "moral evil" is pain, but not in the way one might contemporarily view hedonism. Extrapolating from his understanding of atomic theory, Epicurus (p. 58) relates that: Moral acts involve deliberate "choices" of possible concrete pleasures and "aversions", e.e., the deliberate avoidance of prospective pain. An act is moral if in the long run, all things considered, it produces in the agent a surplus of pleasure over pain; otherwise it is immoral. Our choices, desires, and aversions play a prominent role in Stoic philosophy, too. So too, are our impressions, and Epicurus outlines his theology thus: The gods do indeed exist, since our knowledge of them is a matter of clear and distinct perception. However, Epicurus warned against anthropomorphising the gods or Gods, and that the gods did not control nature. Rather, their role was ethical, and the gods were abstract (p. 41): psychological projections of what every good Epicurean wanted himself to be... Thus a relapse into "the old-time religion" of a god-controlled universe has very serious consequences: It cuts the worshipper off from the gods' images - that is, alienates him from the divine communion - and it plunges the naive believer once more into the ancient fears that Epicurus seeks to allay: namely, that the gods will avenge themselves on wicked men by causing natural disasters, political upheavals, and finally the torments of death and hell. For the Roman poet, Lucretius: True religion is rather the power to contemplate nature with a mind set at peace. Nevertheless, Epicurus was keen to attack other philosophies and religions, so it is not surprising that he got some of his own back! When I was schooled in snippets of Greek philosophy, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were the godhead "gang of three" (see De Bono), and the Presocratics and others were treated as the great pretenders. Yet Epicurus, too, was asking those two great questions: How to live and what to believe (see Murray in my previous article), and his atomic theory addressed the second question in order to address the first. God exists, but, like the atomic swerve, free will exists otherwise there would be no need for ethics, for our behaviour would be pre-determined. According to Strodach's Introduction, the Epicurean materialism (which was morphed or "garbled" into "eat, drink, and be merry") was "so unpalatable" to the ancient and medieval worlds that Epicurus' atomic theory was lost until the 17th Century (uncovered by "the Jesuit priest Pierre Gassendi, a contemporary of Descartes", see p. 76). And so I find myself in agreement with Daniel Klein (see Foreword): For a moment, the twenty-first-century mind might recoil at the idea of a self-anointed pundit proclaiming to his students - and to us - exactly how to live. But I, for one, read on for the simple reason that I suspect Epicurus may, in fact, have gotten it right. ( )
  madepercy | Dec 28, 2017 |
Epicurus was not remembered well by history. Many ancient writers who comment on his thinking have nothing but terrible things to say about him. The Epicureans were ridiculed for being extravagant, over-indulgent, and obsessed with pleasure. However, reading the extant writings of Epicurus introduces us to a much different version of the philosophical school. Epicurus' principle idea was that rational humans seek to avoid pain thoughtfully: we should not, in fact, rush into luxury and pleasure because the costs of doing can be quite high. The wise person weighs everything carefully: should I take the easy 'win' and enjoy pleasure now? What are the likely consequences of my indulgence in the long term?

Similar to many of his philosophical contemporaries, Epicurus concludes that we are better off to distant ourselves from the pursuit of pleasure for pleasure's sake. In fact, he sees the life of "one drinking party after another" to be a road to nowhere. Instead, he advocates the simple life: the person who is happy with their barely bread and water possesses a true sense of "pleasure" -- some more like wholesome contentment.

Why Epicurus is so often lambasted for his supposedly hedonistic ideology? This is an interesting question for history. Indeed, many of the other writers who oppose Epicurus would seem to more or less agree with his idea that unbridled hedonism is the game of fools. Why then do so many attack him?

Interestingly, Epicurus seems to have a response for this. He contends that the people who malign his doctrines by painting him as a luxury, sex-obsessed maniac are out to intentionally misrepresent his school of thought. I wonder how much of this goes back to the science of Epicurus, which in his extant writings takes up a far greater degree of his energy than his philosophizing about pleasure. The purpose of science, according to Epicurus, is to explain all natural phenomena without imputing any divine intervention. Thunder, lightning, storms -- everything, he insists, must have a natural explanation. The gods have nothing to do with human affairs, and the people who are terrified of their wrath are foolish, in desperate need of being saved from the "mythologizing" of dominate religious culture. (Epicurus' 'proof' that all things arise from natural causes was something he couldn't actually prove: a theory of atoms.) Fear of the gods, for Epicurus, is the height of irrationality and a principle error of human thought/society.

With a broader perspective on the scope of his ideas, we can imagine how his position on pleasure could be twisted to undermine support for his critical arguments against theism. Fear of divine punishment has a long history imposing moral social norms, and anyone who did not like Epicurus' vision of distant, aloof, non-intervening deities was compelled to either a) logically show his arguments were faulty or b) discredit him and his philosophical school in the eyes of others. I have a hunch that the second option became the easiest way to write him off, and subsequently led to a concept of the 'epicurean' that is more of a straw man than a cogent representation of his actual philosophy.

If you are a reader of classical literature, no doubt you have come across a ridicule or two of Epicurus. If so, it is very much worth reading this book to give the earliest fragments of the Epicurean school a chance to 'speak'. This book is much more about science than a philosophy of pleasure... and one gets the sense that maybe even Epicurus himself was much more concerned about his burgeoning ideas about empiricism and natural causes than he is about anything else. In fact, he virtually says as much in his own words. The reason we do science in the first place, he insists, to rise above the irrational fear that there's some cosmic intelligence pulling the strings on our reality. For him, the drive to study nature and the drive to liberate people from the fear of the gods are part in parcel of one another. From a history of science perspective alone, these texts well worth examining.

Strodach's academic introduction is terrific for getting orientated with Epicurus' writings, and for discovering a version of Epicurus apart from his chorus of critics who get far more airtime in literature than Epicurus himself does to actually plead his case.
  jamesshelley | Dec 22, 2015 |
"We are born once. We cannot be born a second time, and throughout eternity we shall of necessity no longer exist. You have no power over the morrow, and yet you put off your pleasure. Life is ruined by procrastination, and every one of us dies deep in his affairs."

"Nothing is sufficient for the person who finds sufficiency too little." ( )
  gvenezia | Dec 26, 2014 |
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The brilliant writings of a highly influential Greek philosopher, with a foreword by Daniel Klein, author of Travels with Epicurus The teachings of Epicurus--about life and death, religion and science, physical sensation, happiness, morality, and friendship--attracted legions of adherents throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and deeply influenced later European thought. Though Epicurus faced hostile opposition for centuries after his death, he counts among his many admirers Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, and Isaac Newton. This volume includes all of his extant writings--his letters, doctrines, and Vatican sayings--alongside parallel passages from the greatest exponent of his philosophy, Lucretius, extracts from Diogenes Laertius' Life of Epicurus, a lucid introductory essay about Epicurean philosophy, and a foreword by Daniel Klein, author of Travels with Epicurus and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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