Epicurus and the pleasant life: Living by the philosophy of nature

| June 22, 2017

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Happiness is a choice. In today’s culture, we tend to value concepts like success, material wealth, fame and power, virtue, and faith –logical ideals of our consumer ideology and religious tradition. But pursuing an ideal produced through logic, and not based on our nature’s calls unveiled through our senses, feelings, instincts, inclinations, and life experiences, leads to inner conflict, dissatisfaction, and depression. The pursuit of idealistic goals in life can be traced back to ancient Greece and the school of Plato, who valued what he believed to be divine logic over our natural features.
Subsequent philosophies and religions in this idealistic tradition continued to pursue logical ends over our natural experience. In contrast, the ancient philosopher Epicurus developed a Natural Philosophy of life that is based upon a worldview arising from the reality of our senses, feelings, natural dispositions and perceptions. According to Epicurus, anxiety and misery arise from false thoughts and perceptions of logic that assert that there exist more valuable goods in life than pleasure and happiness. The remedy is to substitute these disturbing, idealistic perceptions with sound, natural perceptions, in harmony with the Epicurean Philosophy of Nature.
Contrary to the Platonic view, the senses, emotions and natural dispositions provide essential feedback regarding pain and pleasure leading us to a truth that is rooted in the natural world. Feelings, are our unmistakable guides in life–the start and stop signals of everyday life. Logic becomes useful only after we have become conscious of our natural desires in order to discern which choices will lead to continuing pleasure over time.
Author Haris Dimitriadis takes the reader through a history of philosophical and religious thought, as well as an in depth look at modern neuroscience, psychology, and astrophysics and why we are hard-wired to live happily. By first accepting the desires that our nature stimulates, applying logic to judge what choices will cause greater pleasure in time, and using our will to take action, human beings can learn and change. Epicurus provides practical, contemporary principles to find meaning based on Natural Philosophy. These place an emphasis on living simply and joyfully in the company of good friends. All willing people are capable of improving the quality of their life through learning and practicing the Epicurean principals.

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