Philosophy of Epicureanism
Episode #7 of the course “Brief history of Ancient philosophy”
Founded in 307 BCE, Epicureanism is a philosophy founded by the Greek materialist Epicurus, who was a follower of Democritus. The first Epicureanism school and philosophical gathering place was founded in the garden at Epicurus’ home in Athens, which became known as simply “The Garden.” Although Epicurus died in 271 or 270 BCE, his teachings remained popular. Although the belief system declined at the time of Christianity, there was some revival of his lessons during the Renaissance revival of classic thought.
Epicureanism promotes pleasure and relief from suffering as the highest goals in life, and Epicurus believed in moderation and finding the boundaries of an extreme so that a person could live within them. He argued that people should seek to understand the workings of the world, and he held that matter and physical substance were the basis for reality, rather than abstract or spiritual substances such as ideals. Originally in competition with Plato and his followers, Epicureanism later became an opposing school of thought for the sceptics.
In many of his writing and lectures, Epicurus argued that people should work to gain knowledge no matter their age or station in life, which was considered somewhat radical for the time. He believed that a person could trust the senses if used correctly, and that it was only by examining the physical world with their senses that people could gain real knowledge. In general, the Epicureans were not interested in politics and tended not to concern themselves with topics outside the natural workings of the world. They were some of the first psychological theorists, considering the human mind a natural wonder.
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