The Hellenistic Era

7.1 Epicurus

Considered the founder of Epicureanism, the view that life’s highest aim is happiness attained through moderate pleasures and the avoidance of mental disturbance, Epicurus endorsed the view that happiness is achieved by moderation. More specifically, he holds that pleasure is an attitude of imperturbable emotional calm and that pleasure is achieved by way of simplicity of a sensible diet, good friends, and prudent morals.

Among Epicurus’s views on achieving an imperturbable emotional calm is that death is not to be feared. His reasoning is that, although gods are real, they do not interfere in human affairs, and since humans are mere collections of atoms, death is a mere matter of those atoms’ dispersal.

7.2 Epictetus

A Stoic, Epictetus argues that happiness is achieved by understanding what is up to us and what is outside our control. For if we understand, and practice, this difference, we will not be bothered by that which we cannot influence.

7.3 Sextus Empiricus

Sextus Empiricus advocates skepticism, the view that we lack knowledge in some fundamental way. Be it derived from sense experience or reason, a knowledge claim is doubtful, according to the skeptic, and so we must suspend judgment. If we attend to appearances, we will be less inclined to make the sorts of claims advanced by the likes of Plato.

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