Glossary - What is the Epicurean Definition of "Pleasure?"

  • I have the impression that Epicurus was right when he said : The removal of pain is an unsurpassed joy i.e. pleasure. :) if we read medical articles on molecules of bliss and happiness we realize that. So, when you have free time please read again the work that was done by Elayne who is a doctor ! On Pain, Pleasure, and Happiness (Version 2)

    I do not actually reject such fact that the removal of pain produces pleasure. In fact, my comment on this emphasizes it:


    "The production of pleasure by the removal of pain is not my personal opinion. It is how I understand what Torquatus said in the second paragraph of part XL of the Book 1 of On Ends. He said "For, as when hunger and thirst are driven away by meat and drink, the very removal of the annoyance brings with it the attainment of pleasure, so in every case, the removal of pain PRODUCES the succession of pleasure. And therefore Epicurus would not admit that there was any intermediate state between pleasure and pain;"


    As I understand it, painlessness does not necessarily mean pleasure because painlessness is the end process of the removal of pain that produces pleasure. Therefore, there is only either pain and pleasure (not either pain or the absence of pain)


    My point is that the absence or removal of pain does not define pleasure so it would be strange if I say that pleasure is the removal of pain. It says here that there is pleasure after the removal of pain. The process of removing pain is not a state but a process that turns pain into pleasure nor a state of painlessness that defines pleasure."


    My point is that painlessness does not necessarily mean pleasure. It is part or the end process of removing pain. What comes next is pleasure. What I'd like us to seek definition is for "pleasure" itself the way we can define "pain."


    As far as I understand, the removal of pain defines the highest pleasure, not pleasure alone.


    Like what I also commented previously:


    "The removal of pain comes in the way only because Torquatus describes the highest pleasure. He describes it by saying "when a man is free from every sort of pain, is not only pleasure, but the highest sort of pleasure." Therefore, let us not forget that what we define here is pleasure, not the highest pleasure."


    Because if we literally hold on to the very premise "That the removal of pain is pleasure," the idea would become abstract. It would mean that death, which removes all sorts of pain, is or produces pleasure.


    And of course, we do not define pain as "something that is removed in order to become pleasure. We define pain as annoyance, disturbance, and the like. That's also what I'd like us to define pleasure if there is any appropriate reference to it. :)

    "It is not the pretended but the real pursuit of philosophy that is needed; for we do not need the appearance of good health but to enjoy it in truth."

    Edited 2 times, last by Mike Anyayahan ().

  • Can this topic get confusing, or what? ;-) Nevertheless, in the end I am convinced that the basic issue is no more complicated than that pleasure is the ultimate guide that nature gave all living things to live by, rather than gods, or abstract logic creating its own goals, or idealism giving us goals set in another dimension. As for the debate on reaching that conclusion, yes it can get confusing, but in the end it's really not a matter to be proved by "debate" or logic anyway - it is a matte of observation and feeling:


    This Epicurus finds in pleasure; pleasure he holds to be the Chief Good, pain the Chief Evil. This he sets out to prove as follows: Every animal, as soon as it is born, seeks for pleasure, and delights in it as the Chief Good, while it recoils from pain as the Chief Evil, and so far as possible avoids it. This it does as long as it remains unperverted, at the prompting of Nature's own unbiased and honest verdict.


    Hence Epicurus refuses to admit any necessity for argument or discussion to prove that pleasure is desirable and pain to be avoided. These facts, be thinks, are perceived by the senses, as that fire is hot, snow white, honey sweet, none of which things need be proved by elaborate argument: it is enough merely to draw attention to them. (For there is a difference, he holds, between formal syllogistic proof of a thing and a mere notice or reminder: the former is the method for discovering abstruse and recondite truths, the latter for indicating facts that are obvious and evident.) Strip mankind of sensation, and nothing remains; it follows that Nature herself is the judge of that which is in accordance with or contrary to nature.

  • I guess there is no need to debate on the exactness of the definition of pleasure since it's a straightforward term. The very word speaks for itself. What we had to was happiness. And based on the flow of our discussion, the best way to define happiness is through examples instead of through abstraction. Just like with the word pain, I don't think we have to be confused with pleasure. Again, Epicurus is not big on definitions the way Plato and Aristotle spend much energy with.

    "It is not the pretended but the real pursuit of philosophy that is needed; for we do not need the appearance of good health but to enjoy it in truth."

  • The final dialogue from the work "Philebus on pleasure" by the preacher Plato.


    Socrates.The claims both of pleasure and mind to be the absolute good have been entirely disproven in this argument because they are both wanting in self-sufficiency and also inadequacy and perfection.


    Protarchus.Most true.


    Socrates.But, though they must both resign in favor of another, the mind is ten thousand times nearer and more akin to the nature of the conqueror than pleasure.


    Protarchus.Certainly.


    Socrates. Pleasure is the last and lowest of goods, and not first, even if asserted to be so by all the animals in the world. And, according to the judgment which has now been given, pleasure will rank fifth.


    Protarchus. True.


    Socrates But not first; no, not even if all the oxen and horses and animals in the world by their pursuit of enjoyment proclaim her to be so;—although the many trusting in them, as diviners trust in birds, determine that pleasures make up the good of life, and deem the lusts of animals to be better witnesses than the inspirations of divine philosophy.


    Protarchus.And now, Socrates, we tell you that the truth of what you have been saying is approved by the judgment of all of us.


    Socrates.And will you let me go?


    Protarchus.There is a little which yet remains, and I will remind you of it, for I am sure that you will not be the first to go away from an argument.


    With the ending paragraph, and after that awful "discussion" (in which there is Plato who is the same person that is asking and the same one that is responding) in these dialogues as they proceed that are based on his awful methodology of dialectics i.e. endless definitions with words, connecting words with schemata, numbers and all that sort of abstractions, separation issues in parts and parts and parts, searching for something as absolute, perfect, objective, eternal and unmoved (for the devious purpose for proving the existence of soul and god actually)...in this ending paragraph, we realize that Protarchus did not remain pleased and satisfied. Of course, as I said Protarchus is Plato who has never been satisfied and pleased, but why ? Because he was "anerastos" (keep in mind this tiny greek word) which means he was never capable to love anyone and to be loved by anyone in the reality of life. This is the fact, and everything else is opinion. ^^

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Socrates. Pleasure is the last and lowest of goods, and not first, even if asserted to be so by all the animals in the world. And, according to the judgment which has now been given, pleasure will rank fifth.


    Protarchus. True.


    Socrates But not first; no, not even if all the oxen and horses and animals in the world by their pursuit of enjoyment proclaim her to be so;—although the many trusting in them, as diviners trust in birds, determine that pleasures make up the good of life, and deem the lusts of animals to be better witnesses than the inspirations of divine philosophy.

    People who are new to the study and haven't read Philebus may be tempted to skip over the Torquatus statement where Epicurus grounded his proof that pleasure is good by observation of the animals. But if you skip over the background you'll never understand why Epicurus says what he says in places like the letter to Menoeceus, where he repeats the conclusion that pleasure is the goal, but omits this fundamental proof that allowed him to reach the conclusion. The letter to Menoeceus is necessarily truncated so that it can be a summary, but if you take it out of context you can easily misunderstand key aspects of Epicurean philosophy.



    , but why ? Because he was "anerastos" (keep in mind this tiny greek word) which means he was never capable to love anyone and to be loved by anyone in the reality of life.

    Elli are you referring to Plato or to Protarchus? And is this statement your suspicion, or are you referring to facts in the record that attest to this being the case (that he was loveless)?

  • From Epicurus LTM : We must then meditate on the things that make our eudaemonia, seeing that when that is with us we have all, but when it is absent we do all to win it...


    ...


    As I said above is already engraved/intuitive in the molecular basis of DNA/RNA in the body of human beings, because if we observe carefully the neonates of just a week we will realize that when they are clean and with a full stomach and during their sleep or awaken are smiling often.

    One of the things I noted from Metrodorus' Letter to Timocrates is that the founders frequently started their philosophical discussions and proofs by appealing to the authority of the body and its drives, and Metrodorus particularly appealed to the stomach, so this is very in line with how EP has always been taught. The stomach teaches us about pleasure and pain, also about fullness, and about the limits of our desires. These are all central ideas of Epicurean ethics.

    http://societyofepicurus.com/m…us-epistle-to-timocrates/

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