Students Post Below:
The first connection I made in Epicurus's "Letter to Menoeceus" was about his observation of how humans perceive death. "Foolish, therefore, is the man who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect." When I read this I immediately thought of the lyrics by Kuniva in, "When the Music Stops" by Eminem. Kuniva raps, "Death itself it can't hurt me, just the thought of dying alone that really irks me." What they are both saying is that men fear not death itself, but ceasing to live. Epicurus argues that it is futile and foolish to feel this way, but I don't quite agree with him. Especially since he says god and therefore the after life don't technically exist, we have a right to be scared of it. Sure the fear won't obstruct me from living and achieving happiness, but there is no foolishness in having fear.
He continues in his letter to talk about basically what you need to do with your life. "Is freedom from bodily pain and mental agitation the best life we can lead?" This advice has been very solidified and well documented. I believe Maslow's hierarchy of needs best illustrates his point. Ridding ourselves of these thing is the first step in pursuing higher more advanced pleasures.
In regards to pleasure and excess, we have already established Plato's view on it, balance is the ultimate morality and goodness, yet Epicurus thinks otherwise. Epicurus states that, "... the pain caused from excess are many and can hurt them for a lifetime," but he still affirms that pleasure is the ultimate happiness. Where he and Plato differ, I think, is Plato more strongly considers the ethical implications of excess, whereas Epicurus only weighs an action based on pleasure derived against consequences. Furthermore, Epicurus puts more emphasis on pleasure and happiness at the truest goals in life, whereas Plato says that understanding and enlightenment are the greatest goals.
In my opinion, the lack of pain being one of the ultimate goals in life is the best measure. It is hard for people here in western societies to understand the pain that a great percent of the world's population goes through daily, whether is be from lack of food and water, lack of clothing, lack of shelter, etc. These people have difficulties getting past the first level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It is doubly immoral that people can pursue in excess of pleasure (where failing to heed consequences will result in long term pain) while others cannot rid their lives of bodily pain and mental agitation. As for the importance of friendship, well I purposefully left that point for last. This can be easily summarized from the movie "Into the Wild." In this movie, a young adult decides to rid himself of all of societies hindrances and live by himself in Alaska. Long story short, after almost a year he dies alone, and the last words he wrote were, "happiness is only real if shared."
|Due By (Pacific Time)
||09/27/2015 11:00 pm