Wisdom, more precious than philosophy.

Epicurean saying Anne Corr

——for tomorrow we die!

Well, perhaps not tomorrow, but some day.  That’s why I am attracted to the Epicureans, who held this thought in the forefront of their minds.  Consequently if you follow their philosophy you will live prudently, avoiding pain, and enjoying the delights this world holds, by living simply and making friends.  Friendship was a big factor in the Epicureans version of the good life. And in case you think he was just another hell raiser, consider his letter to Menoeceus, wherein he explains himself,

When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or wilful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry, not sexual lust, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul. Of all this the beginning and the greatest good is wisdom. Therefore wisdom is a more precious thing even than philosophy ; from it spring all the other virtues, for it teaches that we cannot live pleasantly without living wisely, honourably  and justly; nor live wisely, honourably  and justly without living pleasantly. For the virtues have grown into one with a pleasant life, and a pleasant life is inseparable from them.

Was Nietszche attracted then to the intellect of the pre Socratic philosophy of Epicureanism?  I shall have to discover.  Whether he was or not, he did write the following, which seems to follow the path of thought that what you see is all there is.

Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.

On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

Hope your week holds plenty of worldly pleasure and little pain.  If you follow this guys recommendations it’s more likely to happen.  O.K. so he lived a long time ago ( around 300 B.C.), but truth will out. Here some of things Epicurus of Samos told us:

No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail disturbances many times greater than the pleasures themselves.

The just man is most free from disturbance, while the unjust is full of the utmost disturbance.

Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.

Natural justice is a pledge of reciprocal benefit, to prevent one man from harming or being harmed by another.

There never was such a thing as absolute justice, but only agreements made in mutual dealings among men in whatever places at various times providing against the infliction or suffering of harm.

Not a bad guy then.

 

 

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