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Lecture 23

PHIL 259 Lecture 23: Is Fearing Death Rational?

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PHIL 259
David Boutland

Lecture 23: Is Fearing Death Rational? Epicurus (342 271 BCE) Vain is the word of a philosopher which does not heal any suffering of man. What does epicurean mean today? How is hedonism often used? The Irony By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinkingbouts and of merrymaking, not sexual love, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which procedure a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest disturbances take possession of the soul. Epicurus Philosophy Atomistic Materialism: contrary to Plato, the universe is made up of one kind of thing, matter, tiny indivisible particles. Atoms move randomly in the void under the influence of impersonal forces. At death, the agglomeration of particles, which make up the soul dissolve, consciousness ceases. o Consciousness: awareness, sensing, thinking, remembering Ethical Views Teleological views: relation of right and good o Right is a function of the good o R = max G for X What is the good? (G) Whose good? (X) How should it be promoted? Ethical egoism: we should promote our own good! Theory of the Good Negative hedonism: by pleasure we mean the absence of pain Physical and mental pleasures and pains o Physical pleasures and pains sensory o Mental pleasures and pains From playing chess, reading poetry, learning From fear, dissatisfaction, depression, loneliness o Physical and mental may be mixed: theatre, music, art Epicurus holds mental pleasures superior to physical Epicurean Advice Carpe diem: the soul dies with the body, so seek happiness in this life 1
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