Ethics Of The Hellenistic World
Uploaded by tyson_626 on Feb 02, 2005
In comparing the ethical theories of the Epicureans, Aristotle, and the Stoics it’s found that they possess three separate ideas. These ideas are different in their individual beliefs; yet attempt to accomplish the same goals of creating an inner peace and sense of well being in their followers. Generally these three disciplines had distinctly separate ideas on how to set about accomplishing these goals; the Epicureans felt that the pursuit of pleasure was the correct path to enlightenment, while the Stoics had the idea that the conformation to strict laws regarding virtue was the proper path, and as for Aristotle, he held the middle ground in this debate of the minds, feeling that moderation was the key to complete happiness.
Epicurus' ethics was a form of egoistic hedonism, meaning that the only thing essentially valuable is one's own pleasure. Anything else that has value is valuable merely as a means to securing pleasure for oneself. Epicurus associated this theory to a refined and individual view of the nature of pleasure, which lead him to recommend a virtuous, moderately frugal life as the best means to securing pleasure. His ethical theories find a foundation in the Aristotelian commonplace that the highest good is what is valued for its own sake, and not for the sake of anything else. Epicurus also agreed with Aristotle that happiness is the highest good. However, he disagreed with Aristotle by identifying happiness with pleasure. Epicurus gave two reasons for this. The main reason was that pleasure is the only thing that people do having value just for its own sake; that is, Epicurus' ethical hedonism is based upon his psychological hedonism. Everything we do, he claimed, we do for the sake of ultimately gaining pleasure for ourselves. This is supposedly confirmed by observing the obvious behavior of infants, who instinctively pursue pleasure and shun pain. The truth in this is also found in the behavior of adults, but in adults it is more difficult to see that this truth, since they have much more complicated beliefs about what will bring them pleasure. This hedonism was widely denounced in the ancient world as undermining traditional morality. "The trouble with Epicureanism is its assumption that the self is a bundle of natural appetites and passions, and that the end of life is their gratification. Experience shows that such a policy consistently pursued, brings not pleasure but pain to the...