Every so often I like to remind people of two particularly important articles in our "files" section here. One is Boris Nikolsky's "Epicurus on Pleasure." The second, which I haven't mentioned recently, is Mathew Wenham's "On Cicero's Interpretation of Katastematic Pleasure in Epicurus." In all our discussions of details we shouldn't forget the central issue of being able to understand and describe the goal of life with clarity. What does "pleasure" really mean? There are at least two major dueling positions on how to answer that question. If you have read wikipedia or 98% of the internet websites on Epicurus, you know the majority position. Just be aware that there is a minority position (and of course it's the one I favor). Wenham does a good job of laying out the argument. Added on to Nikolsky's analysis, anyone interested in truly understanding the Epicurean goal of life owes it to themselves to read these two articles.
*** In truth Nikolsky's is more important, because it argues that the entire katastematic/kinetic distinction is non-Epicurean and should be discarded. But if you choose to accept the distinction, Wenham shows how to interpret it in a way that neatly eliminates the contradictions inherent in talking about (1) a "static" state, in an Epicurean universe of atoms that never come to rest, and (2) a state in which feeling is absent, in an Epicurean universe where the feeling of pleasure is the guide to life.
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