Thanks for the insight! Everyone's input was quite helpful!
Dubitator314 Level 01
- Member since Aug 18th 2019
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I'm somewhat new to the forum, and I'm curious where altruism, non-friendship based altruism, but altruism to society in general, fits in with Epicureanism. There are so many discussions that relate to this, but it's hard to find one that succinctly, if possible, answers the question.
For example, if a person gets pleasure from giving to a battered woman's shelter, would that be an an Epicurean ethical action?
Thanks a lot for taking the time to provide the extra sources. I read it quickly as I’m in the field this week working long hours. I’ll ponder it further when I get back. It is an interesting perspective that I haven’t encountered before.
I understand there were Epicureans who did take an active role in politics, but does that mean that Epicurus would have approved of it, especially if they did so during the period immediately following the death of Alexander?
Thanks for the responses.
With respect to the quotes, my knowledge of Greek is much less than a layman’s (armchair student?). Be that as it may, from the articles I’ve read, I did feel that the conclusion you reached seemed like the most plausible one. It also provides some fuel for the critics, e.g., Epictetus, to use in their attacks against Epicurus.
I also didn’t think how the culture of his time might have led to that view in a way, or at least with less force, than he might have had in our culture. I thought along those lines with respect to his admonition to avoid the public life due to the chaotic times after the death of Alexander the Great, but I also never thought of applying it with respect to the institution of marriage.
I’m traveling and don’t have sources handy, but I have a quick question involving marriage. I’ve read that the passage in Diogenes Laertius is mistranslated and should read that the wise man will marry and have children. However, if we accept that, how do we explain the criticism of the schools that preceded Diogenes who criticized the supposed Epicurean teaching that the wise man will not marry and have children (except under special circumstances)?
For what it's worth, the only person I've heard that categorically supported the practice was Musonius Rufus, a Stoic.
There are some modern Stoics supporting it too.
Thanks Cassius. I am a co-leader of a Stoic group. In the course of time I became interested in their rival philosophy, Epicureanism. Not everything Epicurus said resonates with me, but the overall hedonistic claim that we all pursue pleasure and avoid pain seemed commonsensical. I once made the point in the group that we were all studying Stoicism because we thought that doing so would reduce mental pain in our lives. That it would lead to tranquility. In short, if we were honest with ourselves, in my opinion, we would admit that living virtuously was a means to an end. The end being to reduce pain and increase pleasure in life.
Since then I've been slowly reading more about hedonism. Right now I'm reading The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life by Kurt Lampe.
Thanks for the answers. Just to clarify, I don't think the Stoics would have necessarily said the animals had some virtuous desire to save the herd. I think their point was that there are cases where nature's way is to take the path of pain.
My initial thought was that one could argue that it's natural for everything to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, when given the choice. Animal instincts instilled by natural selection would preclude that choice since the act of saving the herd might be in an instinct that's hard wired into their behavior.
Although I didn't think about what JJElbert wrote about. That maybe the potential of seeing others in the herd suffer results in the animal willingly sacrificing itself for the herd. The net pain at seeing another of the herd suffer is a cost too high to pay.
I'm am ex-Stoic, or rather close to being one, and I have a question regarding the Epicurean argument that all animals, including humans, naturally gravitate toward pleasure and avoid pain whenever possible. A Stoic argument I read attempted to counter this by providing examples of animals that would willing endure pain and death, by fighting lions, for example, in order to defend the herd. I'm curious to know what the Epicurean response to that line of argument would be?