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Epicurus and Aristotle
Transcript of Epicurus and Aristotle
according to Aristotle and Epicurus
Aristotle sought after the highest form of good which he believed was the goal of all men, namely Eudaimonia (Happiness)
He described good in two aspects:
- Things that are good for their own sake
- Things that are good as a means to a different good
Epicurus believed in the supreme good being pleasure in Aponia, a peaceful state of the mind and body, characterized by pleasure and the absence of pain.
Precursor to Hedonism, with pleasure being held as the one intrinsic good.
The key to Epicurean pleasure was mental pleasure as opposed to physical pleasure because it catered to long term pleasure.
Aristotle goes over three primary definitions of happiness:
- Life of pleasure: Happiness as enjoyment
- Life of politics: Happiness as honour
- Life of contemplation: Happiness as intelligence and excellence (Arete)
To live well is to live for the sake of happiness, which is synonymous with excellence in the tasks you perform.
Excellence with regards to morality would be to live virtuously.
Moral virtue is not inherent, nature bestows us with a capacity for it and our life experiences enable us to actualize it.
Virtues are judged not on emotions, capacities but on disposition.
How to live well - Aristotle
Aristotle believed neither in overindulgence nor deficiency, he was a believer of the mean that lay between the extremes.
Virtue ties in with feelings and feelings are a broad term tying in with pleasure and pain and virtue is responding to each in an appropriate manner.
He wished to implement the practicality of his ethical philosophy and gave certain guidelines to enable this:
- Stay away from the extreme that is further away from the mean
- Recognize your own personal weaknesses and stay away from them
- Be wary of pleasureful things, they make us do stupid things
A person who is eudaimon is not simply enjoying life, but is enjoying life by living successfully.
Epicurus believed that the absence of pain in the body and of disturbance in the soul is a pleasure.
He valued mental pleasure over physical pleasure, arguing that the mind is able to review the pleasures of the past and anticipate those of the future, which will allow "a continuous and interconnected [set of] pleasures"
He claimed that both physical and mental pleasure "have their origins in the body and take the body as their point of reference."
Classification of desires:
Necessary (food, clothing etc.)
Unnecessary (fancy food, fancy clothing etc.)
-Unnatural (crowns, statuses etc.)
Essentials of Pleasure - Epicurus
Epicurus believed there to be three main essentials of pleasure:
- Time for contemplation
He sought after Repose, both mental and physical to lead a life of peace and tranquility.
He says we should not try to increase our pleasure beyond the point of maximum intensity.
He explained virtues like justice as well on the basis on self-interest, claiming that an unjust way of life would ultimately lead to long term pain, not pleasure.
Aristotle did not believe that abstinence from the material world was key to leading a good life, in fact, he believed that using one's wealth, influence, political control etc. was all pleasurable and beneficial in the execution of virtuous actions.
Epicurus on the other hand believed in a simple, low key, frugal lifestyle. He recommended the elimination of vain desires, and sought to find repose.