The Epicurean school of philosophy was one of the dominant philosophies of the Hellenistic period. Founded by Epicurus of Samos (century 341-270 BCE), it was characterized by an empiricist epistemology and a hedonistic ethics. This new introduction to Epicurus offers readers clear exposition of the central tenets of Epicurus' philosophy, with particular stress placed on those features that have enduring philosophical interest and where parallels can be drawn with debates in contemporary analytic philosophy. Part 1 of the book examines the fundamentals of Epicurus' metaphysics, including atoms and the void, emergent and sensible properties, cosmology, mechanistic biology, the nature and functioning of the mind, death, and freedom of action. Part 2 explores Epicurus' epistemology, including his arguments against scepticism and his ideas on sensations, preconceptions and feelings. The final part deals with Epicurus' ethics, exploring his arguments for hedonism, his distinctive conceptions of types of pleasure and desire, his belief in virtue, his notions of justice, friendship and his theology. O'Keefe provides extended exegesis of the arguments supporting Epicurus' positions, indicating their strengths and weaknesses, while showing the connections between the various parts of his philosophy and how Epicureanism hangs together as a whole.
Country of Publication:
Series: Ancient Philosophies
28 October 2009
Professional and scholarly
Professional & Vocational
Further / Higher Education
Preface Acknowledgements Abbreviations 1. Introduction: The life of Epicurus and the history of Epicureanism Part I Metaphysics and Physics 2. Atoms and Void 3. Atomic Motion 4. Sensible Qualities 5. Cosmology 6. Biology and Language 7. The Mind 8. Freedom and Determinism Part II Epistemology 9. Scepticism 10. The Canon Part III Ethics 11. Pleasure, the Highest Good 12. Varieties of Pleasure, Varieties of Desire 13. The Virtues and Philosophy 14. Justice 15. Friendship 16. The Gods 17. Death Notes Further Reading References Index
Tim O'Keefe is Professor of Philosophy at Georgia State University, USA.
Reviews for Epicureanism
This is a splendid book. As an introduction to all aspects of ancient Epicureanism, addressed to a general readership with an interest in the history of philosophy, I cannot imagine anything better. I shall recommend it to students and colleagues as the first place to go for an engaging, clear, thoughtful, and informed overview of the subject... a small masterpiece. - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews This will be a very useful textbook for those teaching Epicureanism. O'Keefe offers lucid and readable accounts of Epicurean physics, epistemology, and ethics. As well as providing a reliable overview of the main Epicurean ideas, he also aims to bring out their continuing philosophical interest. Although O'Keefe offers an independent analysis of Epicurean theory, he refers freely to the main primary sources and comments in the introduction on the texts that students can usefully read in conjunction with this book. While explicit scholarly controversy is avoided, the treatment is informed by debate in recent scholarship, and the notes refer to a number of important discussions. - Phronesis The tone is lively and engaging and just right for an undergraduate audience. The use of primary sources is light but accurate and the emphasis is squarely and rightly on the consideration of Epicureanism as a focus for philosophical argument. - James Warren, University of Cambridge