Back to the Basics: the Ethics

  • From this 20th message: https://theautarkist.wordpress…to-the-basics-the-ethics/


    Very often, in our public forums questions are raised about choice-making that require us to not confuse the means with the end. The answer to moral problems in Epicurean philosophy is always found in hedonic calculus, but this calculus requires an understanding of what our nature is and what the limits of our desires and pleasures are, if we are to live a blessed life of pleasure, satisfaction and contentment.

    It usually seems to me that the easiest route to answering moral questions is found in the middle portion of Epicurus’ Epistle to Menoeceus, which is the summary of the ethical doctrines of the school and provides general guidelines for our choices and avoidances. This is why Epicurus said we must keep going back to the basics until they become strong and firm in our minds. More specifically, when it comes to choices and avoidances, it is in the middle portion of the tract that we find the most concise, clear instruction by which we find the most fail-safe way of creating for ourselves a life filled with all the pleasures that nature makes available to us. Below is the Bailey translation of the middle portion, and the exhortation (which comes at the end of the epistle) to study philosophy daily, and both alone and with kindred spirits.

    Please take the time to carry out a detailed study of Epicurus’ Epistle to Menoeceus. It is a pearl of the highest value among classical, ethical and humanist literature: wise, concise, brief, detailed, and potent. It teaches us that the essence of morality and of moral reform is not found in becoming subservient to external ideals, but in studying and living in accordance to our own nature and becoming empowered in our choices and avoidances. We also add the most to others’ happiness and flourishing by choosing naturalness and authenticity over cultural convention–particularly when we study and practice philosophy together with them. There’s even a video version, the Cyril Bailey translation, and the Elemental Edition–all put together by New Epicurean. Please share these pearls of wisdom with others!

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words