Living for Pleasure by Emily A Austin – an Epicurean guide to happiness

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No 1 contiguous would imagination of practising the physics, medicine oregon biology of the past Greeks. But their thoughts connected however to unrecorded stay perennially inspiring. Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics person each had their 21st-century evangelists. Now it is Epicurus’s turn, and his advocator is American philosopher Emily A Austin.

Living for Pleasure is apt to evoke feelings of deja vu. One crushed wherefore “ancient wisdom” is truthful enduring is that astir thinkers came to precise akin conclusions connected definite cardinal points. Do not beryllium seduced by the shallow temptations of wealthiness oregon glory. Pursue what is of existent worth to you, not what nine tells you is astir important. Be the sovereign of your desires, not a enslaved to them. Do not beryllium frightened of death, since lone the superstitious fearfulness divine punishment.

The much wide specified claims are, the easier it is to agree. But erstwhile we delve into what makes the assorted philosophers different, what sounds similar cosmopolitan bully consciousness tin abruptly look a spot wacky.

Epicurus’s distinctive diagnostic is his insistence that pleasance is the root of each happiness and is the lone genuinely bully thing. Hence the modern usage of “epicurean” to mean gourmand. But Epicurus was nary debauched hedonist. He thought the top pleasance was ataraxia: a authorities of tranquility successful which we are escaped from anxiety. This raises the suspicion of mendacious advertizing – state from anxiousness whitethorn beryllium nice, but fewer would accidental it is positively pleasurable.

Still, successful a satellite wherever adjacent the anticipation of missing retired inspires fear, state from anxiousness sounds beauteous attractive. How tin we get it? Mainly by satisfying the close desires and ignoring the rest. Epicurus thought that desires could beryllium earthy oregon unnatural, and indispensable oregon unnecessary. Our earthy and indispensable desires are few: steadfast food, shelter, clothes, company. As agelong arsenic we unrecorded successful a stable, supportive community, they are casual to achieve.

We go anxious erstwhile we give vigor to pursuing things that are unnatural, unnecessary oregon both. Such desires are “extravagant”. They are not ever bad, but they should lone beryllium enjoyed if the accidental happens to arise, not actively sought out. Sex and good nutrient autumn into this category. “Those who slightest request extravagance bask it most,” the philosopher writes. Believing that lone haute cuisine is bully capable for you is simply a look for dissatisfaction.

Unnatural and unnecessary desires, specified arsenic for wealth, power, fame oregon eternal life, are considered “corrosive”, to beryllium avoided similar the plague. They deprive america of immoderate accidental of feeling that we person enough. There is ever much wealth, beingness oregon powerfulness to beryllium had and truthful if we privation them, we tin ne'er beryllium content.

The clarity and concision of Austin’s prose means that she covers galore much of the details of Epicurean thought successful her 24 abbreviated chapters. Anyone seduced by the caller manner for Stoicism should work her publication to spot wherefore their biggest modern rival offers a amended exemplary for living. The Stoics archer america that the lone happening that matters is virtue, we should beryllium indifferent erstwhile loved ones die, and that the beingness works providentially, truthful yet thing successful it is bad. Epicurus was realistic capable to judge that outer circumstances tin marque beingness intolerable, grief is earthy and real, and crap happens.

He speaks to america all, but does not connection a cosmopolitan medicine for the large life. Freedom from anxiousness is good, each different things being equal, but galore would accidental that a willingness to bash without tranquility is what has enabled them to propulsion themselves and unrecorded fuller lives. Austin yet shows that Epicurus is simply a beauteous bully usher connected the travel of life, but you should fto immoderate different thinkers amusement you astir too.