Epicurus & the Epicureans?

Epicurus, Engraved by Johann Fredrich Schmidt (1825-1884 | German astronomer and geophysicist)

The modern use of the word ‘epicure’ describes a person who is knowledgeable in the art of sensory pleasure – most notably relating to food and wine. But the real Epicureans, however, believed that all life is suffering, and so the purpose of this life is to experience pleasure.  The “vertebrae” (so to speak) of the Epicurean is that all great pleasures – great foods, abundance of wine, etc. – create addiction and should be avoided as addiction to pleasure would negate our ability to ever fully reach it.

While the teacher Epicurus (341-270 BC) was optimistic in his belief that pleasure is the highest good, he would probably also say that to shun a life of asceticism, swallow one small meal per day, avoid drunkenness, limit enthusiasm and other sensual desires is the ideal path to attaining peace and freedom from fear and wantonness.

The obvious contradiction between the pop-epicurean and the real epicurean is evident, however the word epicure is never used when speaking of philosophies of Epicurus.

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Categories: History + Legends, People

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