Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment (2007), by Sean Gabb


Epicurus (341-270 BC) was, with Plato and Aristotle, one of the three great philosophers of the ancient world. He developed an integrated system of ethics and natural philosophy that, he claimed and many accepted, showed everyone the way to a life of the greatest happiness. The school that he founded remained open for 798 years after his death. While it lost place during the last 200 of these years, his philosophy held until then a wide and often decisive hold on the ancient mind. The revival of Epicureanism in the 17th century coincided with the growth of scientific rationalism and classical liberalism. There can be no doubt these facts are connected. It may, indeed, be argued that the first was a leading cause of the second two, and that we are now living in a world shaped, in every worthwhile sense, by the ideas of Epicurus.

via Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment (2007), by Sean Gabb.

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3 responses to “Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment (2007), by Sean Gabb

  1. I’m posting this now because I don’t think I put it up on the LA Blog at the time.

  2. Curiously, the general perception of Epicurianism is one of debauchery and Bachannalian excess. Which is precisely the opposite of what Epicurus actually taught.

    Odd how his ideas have been inverted.

  3. We will remain in a state of subjection and tyranny until such time as we can free ourselves from the irrational concept that debauchery is a bad thing. When one is subject to a moral belief system that treats normal human pleasure seeking as a form of system failure, the demand for some hegemonic ideological apparatus will remain; be in the State (Left Wing) or an inescapable Church (Right Wing). Only at such a time as we can recognise, as a society, that going out and getting drunk while a strippergram cavorts is perfectly normal behaviour, will the persistent calls for state controls of human behaviour cease.

    Both Left and Right are driven by an ideology that man is forever corrupt, and must be contained lest that corruption break out and overwhelm him. Such a belief system is entirely incompatible with liberty, and hence we have no liberty.