Analyze and explain Epicurus’ famous proclamation: “Thanks be to blessed Nature because she has made what is necessary easy to supply, and what is not easy unnecessary…The right understanding of these facts enables us to refer all choice and avoidance to the health of the body and the soul’s freedom from disturbance, since this is the aim of the life of blessedness.” Do you agree or disagree with this assessment of the good life, and why?In support of your argument, please refer to specific passages from the Epicurus reading assignment, as well as from your own life experiences and observations.
Epicurus, an atomist, believed that every occurrence in the human life is dependent on the atoms interaction. He believed that it is possible for humans to have free will since the random movements of atoms are not entirely determined. In his teaching called ‘Epicureanism’, Epicurus emphasizes the idea that the human happiness and good consists mainly in pleasure. He also opined that pleasure was the absence of pain and the soul’s freedom from disturbance. From his perspective, Nature bears the responsibility of supplying what is necessary easily and that which is unnecessary with difficulty. I agree with his assessment of good life.
Firstly, the things that bring happiness in life are often free and can be obtained easily. Food, drink, and sex are provided for by nature and are necessary for life (Fish & Sanders 44). Humans do not force plants togrow neither do they force the rains to fall to get water. Also, humans desire their opposite sex to fill the need for sexual pleasure. One does not have to force their way into attaining such desires. According to Epicurus, these necessary desires produce happiness and inner tranquility. He makes a clear dissimilarity between necessary and unnecessary desires pointing out that unnecessary desires lead to pain and fear while necessary desires are profitable.
In the few years I have been on earth, I have observed that the achievement of good and happy life demands belief in some supreme being. Just as Epicurus points out the need for God, I can confirm that being spiritual brings inner peace and happiness. God is kind and loving. He cannot be compared to human beings who reward the wicked with wickedness. Also, Epicurus notes that gods do not punish the wicked and reward the good. They are totally different in their determination of the human fate. I have also realized that a person who works towards fulfilling their personal necessary desires is likely to live life to the fullest. Such desires include protection from danger, nourishment, and hydration. A happy personshould seek to simplify one’s life. A simple life enables one to become independent in life (Fish & Sanders 44).
The thought or imagination of death often sends chills down one’s spine. Infact, the mention of death brings terrible fear and terror. Good life and freedom of the soul from disturbance becomes real when we stop fearing death. If people perceive death as the deprivation of sensation then life would be full of happiness. The right understanding of death makes life good, enjoyable and happy. Epicurus encourages humans to seek wisdom that will enable them to see the right pleasures. Some pains are also necessary since they produce pleasure. However, others lead individuals to greater pain such as excessive consumption of alcohol. A wise person should beware of such pleasures to enjoy a life of happiness. On the other hand, some pains, like sadness, are likely to lead one to a state of appreciating life and compassion (Fish & Sanders 98). These two are life pleasurable states. Therefore, it is not advisable to get rid of all negative emotions since some of them lead to pleasure and happiness in life.
In a paragraph (100 words minimum), please respond to the following: Explain the meaning of Marcus Aurelius’ famous admonition: “Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
Everyone has itsown capacity to respond to the life challenges. I believe it is the responsibility of an individual to decide whether he/she isable to control one’sfeelings depending on whether they are peaceful or not. Marcus Aurelius’ admonition is weighty. In his view, human beings should stop the habit of arguing whether something is good or bad and just decide to be good instead. In my opinion, if you are right and safe in whatever you are doing, you do not have to feel negative about a situation or yourself. Stay positive and avoid being negative by all means. Pessimism sucks out personal energy for life. Basically, your emotions should never controlyou since you have the key to your heart.
Marcus Aurelius’ admonition is true. On many occasions, people end up emotionally imprisoned. Some people are unable to make the right decisions because they allow their actions to be dictated the by the circumstances surrounding them. Others are controlled by the fear of harm hence making it impossible for them to take necessary progressive steps in life.Thus, it is necessary for every individual to control one’s emotions and get rid of bad influences that can fret his/her life. Apparently, the actions we take or the words we speak are often dictated by what fills our hearts. Hearts that are in pain or hurt, on many occasions, entertain hurtful words, which eventually come from our mouths. Such words end up causing harm to the people around. It is, therefore, necessary that one makes the decision of choosing not to be harmed. In addition, if one is not harmed by anything or anyone, he/she should not accept to feel harmed.
In summary, it is possible to live a happy and fulfilling life. Epicurus makes an emphasis on the fact that nature easily provides that which is necessary for a good life. She is also responsible for ensuring that that which is not necessary hard to find. On the other hand, Marcus Aureliusadmonishes humans to have control of their hearts. The feelings of harm should not be entertained since they may lead to an unfulfilled life.
Fish, Jeffery & Sanders, Kirk. Epicurus and the Epicurean Tradition. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.