Quotes about Epicurus
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Epicurus, the great teacher of happiness, has correctly and finely divided human needs into three classes. First there are the natural and necessary needs which, if they are not satisfied, cause pain. Consequently, they are only victus et amictus [food and clothing] and are easy to satisfy. Then we have those that are natural yet not necessary, that is, the needs for sexual satisfaction. … These needs are more difficult to satisfy. Finally, there are those that are neither natural nor necessary, the needs for luxury, extravagance, pomp, and splendour, which are without end and very difficult to satisfy.
After upwards of two thousand years Epicurus has been exonerated from the reproach that the doctrines of his philosophy recommended the pleasures of sensuality and voluptuousness as the chief good. Calumny may rest on genius a considerable part of a world's duration; what then is the value of fame?
I lay it down that there is Matter, and also there are Material Species, but unless a Final Cause for them be previously assumed, we shall be, without perceiving it, introducing the doctrine of Epicurus: since if nothing be anterior to two efficient causes, a spontaneous flux and chance must have united the two together.
Marx sees Epicurus as a destroyer of the Greek myths and as a philosopher bringing to light the break-up of a tribal community. His system destroyed the visible heaven of the ancients as a keystone of political and religious life. Marx allies himself, so to speak, with Epicurean atheism, which he regards at this stage as a challenge by the intellectual élite to the cohorts of common sense. 'As long as a single drop of blood pulses in her world-conquering and totally free heart, philosophy will continually shout at her opponents the cry of Epicurus: Impiety does not consist in destroying the gods of the crowd but rather in ascribing to the gods the ideas of the crowd. '
When we consider a human work, we believe we know where the "intelligence" which fashioned it comes from; but when a living being is concerned, no one knows or ever knew, neither Darwin nor Epicurus, neither Leibniz nor Aristotle, neither Einstein nor Parmenides. An act of faith is necessary to make us adopt one hypothesis rather than another. Science, which does not accept any credo, or in any case should not, acknowledges its ignorance, its inability to solve this problem which, we are certain, exists and has reality.
Thales thought that water was the primordial substance of all things. Heraclitus of Ephesus... thought that it was fire. Democritus and his follower Epicurus thought that it was the atoms, termed by our writers "bodies that cannot be cut up" or, by some "indivisibles." The school of the Pythagoreans added air and the earthy to the water and fire. Hence, although Democritus did not in a strict sense name them, but spoke only of indivisible bodies, yet he seems to have meant these same elements, because when taken by themselves they cannot be harmed, nor are they susceptible of dissolution, nor can they be cut up into parts, but throughout time eternal they forever retain an infinite solidity.
It seems then, say I, that you leave politics entirely out of the question, and never suppose, that a wise magistrate can justly be jealous of certain tenets of philosophy, such as those of Epicurus, which, denying a divine existence, and consequently a providence and a future state, seem to loosen, in a great measure, the ties of morality, and may be supposed, for that reason, pernicious to the peace of civil society.
One could say that what differentiates ancient from modern philosophy is the fact that, in ancient philosophy, it was not only Chrysippus or Epicurus who, just because they had developed a philosophical discourse, were considered philosophers. Rather, every person who lived according to the precepts of Chrysippus or Epicurus was every bit as much a philosopher as they.