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Pursuit to Happiness | Epicureanism

The pursuit to happiness was one of the major but often unattainable goals for different philosophies. In this regard, Epicureanism is one of the most influential philosophic teachings of the ancient world, which has had a significant impact on the development of western philosophy and views on happiness. Epicureanism dates back to the 4th c. BC. The philosophy was found by Epicurus, who was a proponent of Democritus. In the course of time, the philosophy became very popular and gained approval in ancient Greece and later Rome. However, along with the decline of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Christianity, Epicureanism has started to die out.

Nevertheless, Epicureanism developed quite original explanation of happiness. To put it more precisely, Epicureanism promoted the idea of the modest life, moderate pleasures, gaining knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desire. Epicurus believed that individuals should lead modest life and avoid being overwhelmed with desires to be happy. However, the growing popularity of Epicureanism confronted substantial criticism. Opponents argued that the modest life and permanent limitation of one’s desire could provoke the dissatisfaction and internal sufferings. As a result, opponents believed that Epicureanism cannot lead individuals to happiness.

Nevertheless, today, it is still possible to trace the example from the present day. For instance, Christianity still promotes modesty in human life. However, Epicureanism still can be applied in pursuit to happiness. For instance, I understand that some of my desires are unattainable. Therefore, it would be reasonable to follow Epicurus’ recommendation and to limit my desires. For instance, I would never become a King of England. Hence, I would not strive for absolute power. Instead, I can focus on understanding how the world works to find my place in it.

References:

Gottlieb, Anthony (2000). The dream of reason : a history of western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance. New York: W.W. Norton.
Howard, J. (1989). The Epicurean Tradition. London Routledge.
Stevenson, J. (2005). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Philosophy. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, Penguin Group.