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History
IN OUR TIME'S GREATEST PHILOSOPHER VOTE
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GREATEST PHILOSOPHER

 
Epicurus (c. 341 BC–270 BC)
advocated by David Sedley

 Listen to David Sedley say why you should vote for Epicurus

'It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly.'

Epicurus. Epicurus was born on the Greek island of Samos and trained in the military in Athens before becoming a teacher in Mytilene and Lampsacus.

He returned to Athens in 305 BC where he founded a school of philosophy that bears his name.

Epicurus revived physical atomism, a theory that the world was formed by the concourse of atoms, first devised by Leucippus (c5th BC) and Democritus (c. 460-c. 362 BC).

Although most of his writings are lost, his work is known through fragments of writings by Diogenes Laërtius and particularly through the long poem, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), by his Roman disciple Lucretius.

Epicurean philosophy sought for a happy, simple life and used the atomic theory to get away from the old fears and superstitions. Epicurus also added to the atomic theory, asserting sensory perception where Democritus had distrusted the senses, and he also introduced the concept of random atomic movement to reinstate free will in a system that was otherwise pre-determined.

In ethics he regarded the absence of pain as the greatest good, but has been criticised for his over indulgent pleasure seeking.

Read the Principal Doctrines of Epicurus

Read about Epicurus on Wikipedia

Read about Epicurus on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Read about Epicurus on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Please note: the BBC accepts no responsibility for the content of external websites.

 Listen to David Sedley say why you should vote for Epicurus

David Sedley

David Sedley is Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He has published extensively on the Hellenistic philosophers in general and recently on The Origins of Stoic Theological Argument (2005). He is also the editor of the Cambridge companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy (2003) and wrote the chapter on Early Stoicism in the Cambridge Companion to Stoicism (2003).

 
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