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The Essential Epicurus: Letters, Principal Doctrines, Vatican Sayings, and Fragments (Great Books in Philosophy) [Paperback]

By Epicurus & Eugene Michael O'Connor (Translator)
Our Price $ 10.19  
Retail Value $ 11.99  
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Item Number 129733  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   101
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.18" Width: 6.03" Height: 0.57"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1993
Publisher   Prometheus Books
ISBN  0879758104  
EAN  9780879758103  

Availability  4 units.
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Item Description...
Epicureanism is commonly regarded as the refined satisfaction of physical desires. As a philosophy, however, it also denoted the striving after an independent state of mind and body, imperturbability, and reliance on sensory data as the true basis of knowledge.
Epicurus (ca. 341-271 B.C.) founded one of the most famous and influential philosophical schools of antiquity. In these remains of his vast output of scientific and ethical writings, we can trace Epicurus' views on atomism, physical sensation, duty, morality, the soul, and the nature of the gods.

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More About Epicurus & Eugene Michael O'Connor

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! EPICURUS (341 - 271 B.C.E.) was an Athenian philosopher of the Hellenistic period, who was born on the Aegean island of Samos off the coast of present-day Turkey. At age eighteen, he moved to Athens to complete a compulsory two-year term of military service and thereafter began studying philosophy under Nausiphanes of Teos. This teacher, at the time a follower of Democritus, proved to have considerable influence on Epicurus's thinking. Nonetheless, Epicurus later criticized some of the ideas of Nausiphanes and claimed to be mainly self-taught. After this period of study, he taught briefly in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos and then founded a school in Lampsacus on the Hellespont before returning to Athens in 306 B.C.E. There he purchased a house with a garden that became the site of a school and commune thereafter known as "The Garden." It admitted both men and women, slave and free. Located midway between the famous Athenian Stoa and the Academy founded by Plato, the school and the philosophy taught there by Epicurus attracted many students and continued to be influential for centuries after his death.

Epicurus was born in 371 and died in 271.

Epicurus has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Great Books in Philosophy

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Epicurus, not so great...  May 29, 2007
A disappointment. At first, I really liked his 'No pain' theorem, but after reading this book (which wasn't so greatly organized or collaborated), I discovered that, yes, perhaps he was looked down on by other Europeans because he elaborated on rather communist ideals. Personally, I like a few of his segments, but NOT his oeuvre en total. This book, either.
The Greek Buddha  May 22, 2003
Epicurus lived in the Athens of Plato. He attracted a host of followers to his preferred teaching place, a garden. There he taught them the ultimately anti-Platonic truths: this life is the only one, it is good, and the best way to live it is by maximizing stable pleasures.

Few philosophers have been more maligned and underappreciated. The Platonists and their ilk (the later Christians) found Epicurus' teachings too much focused on this world and not enough on the other. They thought he taught unalloyed hedonism and accused the Epicureans of wild orgies. Today, an Epicurean is thought of as an effete, wine-sipping decadent. All of these conceptions are completely wrong.

Starting with the truth that everything is made from the material of atoms (after Democritus), Epicurus determined that our consciousness must necessarily die with the death of our bodies. Since this is the only life it should be the sole focus of our efforts. In this mortal life we must maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain. Pleasure is defined as the avoidance of pain and the stabilization of comfort. The most reliable comforts are certainly not sex, drugs, rock and roll-all such things are unstable pleasures that lead to greater appetites. The best pleasures are those that can be controlled without much effort such as good friendship, good cheer, and an appreciation for the simple things. By avoiding epicurean dishes (our misreading) and satisfying our appetites with the most basic, most easily attainable foods, we sate our hunger. The full belly wants neither caviar nor black bread. Taking this principle to all other pleasures, Epicurus finds them easily satisfied.

Much of our turmoil is due to immaterial concerns, the attainment of more power, money, love, and the evasion of death. Epicurus shows, point-by-point, how these concerns can be wrestled into submission. Once the basic pleasures are met and one's anxieties are minimized life becomes simple and good. Before Christianity put non-Chrisitians under the sword, Epicureanism had become immensely popular and was constantly growing. It is time it resumed its natural course.

O'Connor's translations personify the philosopher himself-they are clear and elegant. This is an insightful, exciting, and pleasant read.

To Epicurus  Jan 16, 2003
The first to bring grain to uneasy mortals
in times past was the famous city of Athens
which made life anew and instituted laws:
And first brought delicious consolation to life
when she gave birth to the man of genius so extraordinary
that everything came from a mouth devoted to truth
so that, even though now he is dead, his divine discoveries
spread abroad, carrying his glory to the sky.

For when he saw that whatever men's needs demanded,
so far as may be, to keep their lives in safety,
was there at hand already for their use,
that men had all they could want in the way of wealth
and honor and praise, and pride in successful children;
Yet, at home each was perpetually disquieted
and the mind was enslaved by all its bitter complaints;
He understood that the trouble was in the container
and because of some flaw in it, everything would go bad
whatever excellent things were put into it:
Partly because there were holes and things flowed through them
and there was no possibility of filling it up;
And partly because what did get in was spoiled,
so to speak, by the nauseous taste there was inside.

The truth was what he used to purify hearts with
and he set a limit to fear as to desire;
He explained what it is that all of us really want
and showed us the way along a little path
which makes it possible for us to go straight there;
He showed what evils there are in human affairs
and how they were brought about by the force of nature,
popping up by change or because nature worked that way;
And he showed how best to face each of these difficulties
and proved that the human race was generally vain
in the way it ruminated in its gloomy thoughts.
For just as children are afraid of the dark
their elders are as often as not afraid in the light
of things which there is as little cause to fear
as those which children imagine to frighten themselves.
These grown-up terrors are also no more than shadows
and yet they are nothing that the sunlight can dissipate:
What is needed is the rational study of nature.

Who is skillful enough to produce an adequate poem
about the magnificent world and these discoveries about it?
Does anyone so use language that he can praise appropriately
the man who made these discoveries and left them for us?

Compare what he did with what the other gods did.

I follow you, nothing better has come out of Greece,
and now, where the print of your foot fell, I place my own,
not in jealous competition but out of love
which constrains me to imitate you. For does the swallow
set herself against swans? Or the wobbling kid
think that she should go as fast as a racehorse?
You discovered nature, father: you gave us instruction
and left the whole matter set out in your writings
where, just as bees help themselves in the meadows,
we can replenish ourselves with your golden sayings;
Golden, in that they are of permanent value.

As soon as your theory, the product of an intellect
something more than human, began to make some noise,
the fears that haunt minds disappeared, the walls of the world
gave way, and I saw through all space how everything happens...

By Lucretius
Written 50 B.C.E

The antidote to human stupidity and greed.  Dec 26, 2001
This book does not rely on a god or a saviour to lead a smart and fulfilling life. It relies soley on reason and what an effective use of it by epicurus! Most of epicurus works are either lost or destroyed, but this book contains his essential teachings. Epicurus did not deny the existance of the gods. This would make sense. If the universe is infinite as he says, then all possible things already exist in one way or another. According to epicurus one should live out his natural life, this would be prudent. This life is the only one you get. He writes that by being prudent ie; looking at both sides of an issue to find truth and getting only what you need, you can live a smart and happy life. After life is over one goes to eternal oblivion, free of all suffering forever. The ironic thing about epicurus is that he admits there are gods. If one reads what he writes carefully, one finds that one doesnt need to go to heaven or even to exist. Since it is not needed, one loses nothing. The same thing can be said for the wild goose chase, most people are engaged in for happiness. They want bigger houses, more expensive cars, more cash, etc. and instead of gaining happiness gain more misery. Why? Because the truth is you gain happiness by getting only what you need. Epicurus writes that those who are not satisfied with a little, will never be satisfied even with a lot or even infinity. The more you have above need, the more worry, headache and problems. This in no way is conducive to happiness. These writings are some of the most brilliant in the entire realm of philosophy. This book gets two thumbs up!
Enjoyed reading Epicurus, but the book can be improved  Nov 18, 2001
Most of the other reviers have given this book five stars, and I would too, if I thought this book was perfect! The book does encompass all of Epicurus' first hand writing in English. I did enjoy reading the book and wished we had more of his writinga especially on friendship which in my opinion surpasses Platonic and Aristotilian philosophy. However, I think a copy of the greek text with an apparatus would be highly helpful, especially in writing a good philosophy paper on Epicurus because many different English translations are rendered from the greek fragment, and one word translated obscurely may mean all the difference in philosophical thought.

Write your own review about The Essential Epicurus: Letters, Principal Doctrines, Vatican Sayings, and Fragments (Great Books in Philosophy)

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