The Writings of Epicurus

What Type of Lifestyle would an Epicurean Truly Lead? College

In his Letter to Menoeceus and the Leading Doctrines, Epicurus claims that happiness is derived from the fulfillment of pleasure as well as the absence of pain. Most people today would probably agree with Epicurus on that point, and seemingly in other points of his work, such as his argument that happiness is episodic and that people searching for happiness are always actively avoiding pain. Given the emphasis in American culture on pleasure, one might think Epicurus is the philosopher who captures what happiness is because his argument states happiness is derived from the fulfillment of pleasures and the absence of pain. However, examining the text more thoroughly reveals that Epicurus argues that a happy person is going to be one who has simplistic desires because a happy life relies on the absence of pain. Therefore, I argue that Epicurus’ definition of happiness contradicts itself by saying the happy life is a neutral state but on the other hand, the way he works through his argument often advocates for experiencing intense pleasure.

Epicurus defines happiness as the fulfillment of pleasure and the absence of pain. He addresses what pleasure and pain are in his Letter to Menoeceus and his Leading Doctrines. In point III of...

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