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The Good Life and the Right Action - Essay Example

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The Good Life and the Right Action

It is not wise to teach young to live well while old to end well since in same lesson one teaches live well and die well (Epicurus pars. 2-4). Epicurus considers religious practices and beliefs harmful since these lead one to disturbing thought of death and uncertainty of life after death (Wilson 274). Epicurus defines pleasures to Menoeceus in his letter. He says that desires are necessary for pleasures of life. These give health to body and tranquility to mind (ataraxia) which is highest pleasure obtainable where all emotional disturbances are removed and only simple needs remain. He explains that pleasures are not in the costly things or sensual pleasures of body, it is absence of pain and trouble in soul. A plain meal gives as much pleasure as a rich spread. A bread and water to a hungry man is divine meal. (Epicurus pars 6-9). He concludes that ultimate evil is pain. It may be fear of death, fear of not being able to attain material wealth. The ultimate good is pleasure. Wilson (274) presents Epicurus' view that postpone immediate pleasures to attain higher pleasures. Epicurus thus advised self-discipline.
Epictetus' views on good life and right action: Epictetus and other stoics felt that nature is rational and orderly. Our individual natures are part of universe so living in agreement with nature (homologia) is good life (Long 163). Epictetus and other stoics stated that a morally good life with health, wealth and reputation is one's choice because it suits to the nature more than the life equally moral but full of poverty, illness and exiles. For stoics the virtuous life is most important (Meyer 142). Happiness is not doing anything against the law of nature. Epictetus found god or actually demigod (daimon) and human being in partnership. His god is between human and fully divine (Long 163). For a good life, Epictetus emphasized that life is influenced by physical circumstances so free yourself from them as much as possible. He disengaged emotions with the life and conduct of a person and emphasized that to reason is most important force of control on action. Thus cultivate practical wisdom, fortitude, discretion and justice, all positive qualities for a good life (Wilson 274). According to stoicism, all human being can seek wisdom and practice virtues irrespective of their external circumstances which is not surprising since its two main proponent were an emperor (Aurelius) and a slave (Epictetus) (Wilson 274).
Their views compared to others' views:
Conflicts - Arguments on morality Vs Good life
Epicurus stated that fame, power, politics are unpromising means to secure good life. Long (180-181) Criticizes Epicurus' views by pointing out that educational and cultural institution are developed by politics. Long and Bailey (as cited in Long 180) do not support Epicurus' stress on good life as one which is disengaged from non-Epicurean population and is secure from fear of neighbors as was his isolated Epicurean garden outside Athens. They consider this view as non-tolerance and timidity respectively.
The conflict arises on (Long 180-181):
Was Epicurus aware that some people might lack even the minimal provisions required by his ethics.
Was he satisfied that outside his retreat, there was a stable non-Epicurean society ...Show more


Epicurus' views on good life and right action: In his letter to Menoecius, Epicurus explains why one should not fear death Because only god is immortal and blessed. Others, the human being, are mortal. We should not fear death because death has no sensation so we can not feel it while everything in life has sensation…
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The Good Life and the Right Action essay example
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