Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Despite his 300 written works, much of what is known about Epicurean philosophy derives from later followers and commentators, because only a few fragments and letters remain of Epicurus’s original work.
According to Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia (peace and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of pain), and by living a sustainable life surrounded by friends. About genuine friendship, he wrote “Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the cultivation of friendship”. About Money and Happiness, he thought that happiness is the absence of either physical pain or mental suffering; Epicurus was not interested in an ostentatious display of either wealth or joy, but rather the inner tranquility that comes from leading a good life, and lived accordingly.
Epicurus on Happiness – Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness
This six part series on philosophy is presented by popular British philosopher Alain de Botton. Episode 2 is about Epicurus on Happiness. British philosopher Alain De Botton discusses the personal implications of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270BCE) who was no epicurean glutton or wanton consumerist, but an advocate of “friends, freedom and thought” as the path to happiness.
Epicurus explicitly warned against overindulgence because it often leads to pain. Epicurus also said that death was not to be feared. When a man dies, he does not feel the pain of death because he no longer is and he therefore feels nothing. Therefore, as Epicurus famously said, “death is nothing to us.” When we exist death is not, and when death exists we are not. All sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain. The fear of death arises from the false belief that in death there is awareness.