Pleasure as the Highest Good – a short reading from Epicurus’ ‘Letter to Menoeceus’

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Introduction In this passage from the Letter to Menoeceus, Epicurus (341 – 270 B.C.), summarizes two of his most famous ethical doctrines: that death should not be feared and that pleasure is the highest good. However, pleasure for Epicurus is not the indulgence of fine foods, drinking beer, and sex. Pleasure is simply the absence of pain. So for Epicurus, a simple life of quiet contemplation is the most pleasurable and therefore ideal life. Reading Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in …

The “City of Pigs”, the Luxurious City, and the Origin of War – a short reading from Plato’s Republic

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“Then a slice of our neighbours’ land will be wanted by us for pasture and tillage, and they will want a slice of ours, if, like ourselves, they exceed the limit of necessity, and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth?” In this passage, Socrates compares a simple city with a luxurious one and explores the consequences that are likely to follow when a simple city becomes luxurious. First, Socrates sketches his vision of the ideal city; a simple communitarian society where the basic needs of everyone are …