Ethics of Epicuros (Epicure, Epicurus)June 26, 2021
Epicurus advocates hedonistic ethics in his ethical view, which represents the whole of his philosophy.
As a matter of fact, he said that the real purpose of human life, the main goal, is the pleasure itself, to increase the amount of pleasure as much as possible, but the main goal is to be away from pain. Epicurus arrived at this conclusion, or ethical hedonism, from psychological hedonism, that is, from the observation that all animals escape from pain and turn to pleasure. Indeed, according to Epicurus, who asserted that “pleasure is the beginning and end of a happy and blessed life, […] it constitutes, by all our choices, the beginning of all forms of relief,” pleasure is determined above all by the absence of pain. Therefore, his hedonism is defined as a negative hedonism. On the other hand, according to Epicurus, not all pleasures are of equal value; therefore, it can be said that he adopted a qualitative rather than quantitative hedonism.
He says that there are three kinds of desires that give rise to pleasures. Some desires are both natural and necessary, such as food and drink, while others, like some sexual desires, are natural but not necessary. The third kind of desires are those that are neither natural nor necessary, such as the desire for wealth or luxury. They cause bodily pleasures. Although Epicurus does not underestimate or ignore bodily pleasures, he argues that indulging in such pleasures is not natural and correct, and will lead one to unhappiness and pain. According to this, the philosopher who makes a distinction between “kinetic” pleasures and “static” pleasures, calls the permanent, long-term pleasures that provide mental or spiritual calmness, which is inevitable for a happy life, as static pleasures, while kinetic pleasures as a temporary and intense type of pleasure are bodily. identified with pleasure. Bodily pleasures, according to Epicurus, can never be fully satisfied; People who chase after bodily pleasures are always insatiable and always suffer because of this. Accordingly, if a person always wants more, such a person will feel dissatisfied with his current situation and become restless. What makes a person happy is reasonable and simple habits, the mind that can measure what we will pursue and avoid.
Epicurus tried to complete his hedonistic ethics with the view of virtuous life. According to him, the basic virtue is wisdom, because the wise man is the one who can determine the minimum needs of his own nature and can easily meet these needs. When these needs are met, his mood is in balance. Such a person has attained spiritual tranquility. The wise man’s meal of bread and water gives him more happiness than a cook’s delicious meals. Because the wise person has learned not only to consume less, but more importantly, to be content with less. Therefore, the highest pleasure that human nature seeks is spiritual balance, spiritual tranquility. We reach this state when we get rid of fears and pain, when we prioritize pleasures according to their importance, and when we try to satisfy our curiosity and learning desires. So the important thing is to understand, learn and know, that is, to meet the spiritual needs of the person.
Epicurus has been a proponent of the idea of freedom of the will, depending on his aim to achieve happiness as the sole goal. Man cannot be a slave to an absolute and inevitable necessity, he can determine his own destiny, and the task of philosophy is to prove this to man.
Of course, human will is determined by many internal and external conditions; However, despite all these, people can make their own decisions and even make decisions about the conditions they are in, and in this sense, they are not necessarily dependent on their conditions. Epicurus also tells us that we should not let the law influence these decisions. He clearly stated this in the following words; “The rule is a prison for man, because it imprisons man and takes away his freedom.” says. All this shows the general structure of moral philosophy, which was the main orientation of Epicurus. Ethics is the basis in Epicurus, because it is ethics that shows man what is right and what is wrong, that is, what to do and what not to do to achieve happiness.
There is a development of a kind of hedonism here, especially in line with the Cyrene School. In this context, pleasure is the natural result of every effort and will of a living being. However, there is a fundamental difference in Epicurus’ hedonism. Pleasure has a negative meaning dimension in Epicurus as a tendency to avoid pain.
His theory of virtue also emerges depending on these approaches. Virtue is connected with the idea of living rightly; living rightly is related to seeking and attaining happiness. The phrase “wisdom is virtue” is shaped in this context in Epicurus. His thoughts on society and the state are inseparable from his moral philosophy; Epicurus cares about these in terms of protecting the individual and achieving happiness. The most important concept in Epicurean philosophy is the concept of friendship. According to him, the form of human relationship worthy of wisdom is friendship.