Epicurean Philosophy

Liberation from fear, pain, and strife: this was the task of the Epicureans. The state of ataraxia, where this freedom exists, was the fundamental goal. This philosophy incorporated many beliefs that had to be indoctrinated and practiced to achieve this euphoric state and attain true happiness. Epicureans believed that human bodies, as well as the rest of the world, were made up of atoms. This being the case, they reasoned that after death humans simply ceased to exist, which was contradictory to religious belief.

Although they didn’t believe anything happened after death, they still believed in the gods. Their view was that the gods were real but humanity as a whole was of no concern to them. To be a follower, one had to accept this idea of indifferent gods and no afterlife. These ideas were the attributes that made freedom from fear possible. If death was truly the end, there was nothing to fear about dying. If gods were detached from humans, there was no godly wrath to be afraid of.

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The issues that made most people anxious, worried and fearful about life were explained logically by the Epicureans and liberated them from those fears, bringing them one step closer to ataraxia. The way of life taught by Epicurus was intended to relieve followers of pain and trouble. They were to live a life disconnected from society. The universe and the people in it, seemed to only bring anguish and suffering to those who became involved. The only way to avoid these adversities was to completely separate oneself from it, maintaining a life focused on their own existence and attaining their own euphoria.

Avoiding society meant avoiding disorder and undertaking a path to peace. Pursuing this way of life was essential to the freedom of pain and conflict, and reaching the state of ataraxia. Epicureans had distinct guidelines that needed to be followed to achieve ataraxia, but in the end it meant deliverance from worldly turmoil. The absence of fear and pain brought about the presence of contentment and tranquility. This philosophy was to render certain human happiness, on an individual level, for those that adhered.

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