Epicurus Ethics

It is impossible to live a pleasant live without living wise and well and justly. So said Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher. Though little remains of Epicurus' 300 written works, his teachings have been passed down by those who follow the Epicurism school of philosophy. Epicurism promotes equality and believes a perfect world could be attained if everyone in it would act justly. We call this idea "Epicurus Ethics".

Epicurus was one of the early Greek thinkers to propose the idea of a set social code that would ensure the best for all men. He argued that a law is only just if it is beneficial to mankind; if it is not beneficial then it is unjust and should be removed.

Other philosophers of the time had there own ideas of what was right and what was wrong. Up to this point, the Sophists were the leading authority of justice. They were a group of educated men who would travel throughout Greece teaching the idea that justice was in the interest of the stronger. This meant that a murderer could escape punishment if he could make a stronger argument than the prosecution.

Many philosophers held the Sophists in disdain; Socrates and Epicurus both believed in the idea of a set moral code. However, unlike Socrates, who believed the key to happiness was to deny oneself earthly pleasures, Epicurus believed that "pleasure is the starting point and goal of living blessedly". To explain this, Epicurus used the example of a newborn: When a child is born, it seeks food and warmth while trying to avoid pain; this means that it is out natural instinct to indulge ourselves. To Epicurus, our natural instincts could not possibly be evil and so to live justly we must rejoice in pleasure; which explains the famous Epicurus quote "Baby please, we'll be saving the environment."

Or course, Epicurus ethics have drawn criticism from some for being 'egotistical". Critics of the philosopher believe that while Epicurus ethics promote justice and equality, they also teaches pleasure in a way, which encourages one to act solely for their pleasure. However, Epicurus believed that indulging oneself would lead to one feeling more fulfilled and relaxed, which would result in one being at peace with the surrounding world and those in it. Remember what Epicurism teaches: it is impossible to live wise and well and justly without living a pleasant life.