Thursday, January 29, 2009

Epicureanism and Atomic Materialism, Say That 10 Times Fast

The ethical philosophy which I feel suits me best is the work of Epicurus and his development of Atomic Materialism. At face value and without further research this may seem like a selfish decision, but as I researched this philosophy deeper I found that many of its tenants fit myself well. Epicurus believed that the "good life" consisted of tranquility, freedom from pain, and the absence of fear. Personal pleasure is the ultimate happiness. Now I ask you, who doesn't want that? Who would like to live a life of personal strife, bodily pain, and anxiety?

The greatest part of this philosophical view is that the highest good in life is gained through knowledge, friendship, virtue, and temperance. Yet, Epicurus also believed in living and eating humbly, as well as having humble relationships. Simple pleasures meant steering clear of appetites, sex, and drinking. An area where Epicurus and myself can't seem to meet in the middle, I always end up drinking too much. But, socially, not many of these simple life ethics have survived, they were squashed by Adam Smith.

I also believe that true altruism does not exist. Epicurus is the father of ethical egoism, he believed above all that one should promote his own interests, for personal pleasure is the root of happiness. I don't buy the notion that people do things without expecting reciprocity, whether internally or externally. Go ahead a tell me that you volunteer to help another, but I know whether visibly or hidden deep within your head you really have alternative motives. You go to relief society for the free food or socialization, not because you want to go to the old folks home and read stories to someones deaf grandpa.

This world is a dog-eat-dog world and you have to watch out for number one, which may sound selfish but according to Epicurus this is where the greatest happiness lies. No one is going to care and watch out for your interests and well being as you yourself would do. And I really believe that we should all eat, drink, and be merry for tommorow we die and don't really know where the heaven or hell we are going.

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