Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Cardinal/Hayward/Jones, Jean Baudrillard and Epicurus

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14 ideas

22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / f. Good as pleasure
Pleasure is the first good in life [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: Pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily, and we recognise this as the first good.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 128)
     A reaction: We might enquire what we would live for if our capacities for pleasure were surgically removed. Would we still experience intellectual curiosity, or an aspiration to some cold and remote goodness?
Pleasure is the goal, but as lack of pain and calm mind, not as depraved or greedy pleasure [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: When we say that pleasure is the goal we do not mean the pleasures of the profligate or the pleasures of consumption, but rather the lack of pain in the body and disturbance in the soul.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 131)
     A reaction: I don't really understand the aspiration to a 'calm mind'. No one likes stress, but total calmness sounds close to non-existence. The mean! There is no achievement without pain.
Pleasure is the chief good because it is the most natural, especially for animals [Epicurus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Pleasure is the chief good, because all animals from the moment of their birth are delighted with pleasure and offended by pain by their natural instinct, without the employment of reason.
     From: report of Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 10.29
     A reaction: The highest pleasure of predators is likely to be the killing of weaker animals. What all animals do isn't much of a criterion for the natural chief good. They also breathe.
All pleasures are good, but it is not always right to choose them [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: Every pleasure is a good thing, since it has a nature congenial to us, but not every one is to be chosen, just as every pain is a bad thing, but not every one is such as to be always avoided.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 129)
     A reaction: This kind of sensible remark would be wholly endorsed by Bentham and Mill. This fits in with the excellent distinction between what is right and what is good.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / i. Moral luck
Sooner a good decision going wrong, than a bad one turning out for the good [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: It is better for a good decision not to turn out right in action than for a bad decision to turn out right because of chance.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 135)
     A reaction: This sounds right, and on the whole the law agrees. Notice that what we need is a 'good decision', and not just to 'mean well'. The well-meaning fool is wicked. I am opposed to consequentialism, and agree with this idea.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / c. Value of happiness
What happens to me if I obtain all my desires, and what if I fail? [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: One should bring this question to bear on all one's desires: what will happen to me if what is sought by desire is achieved, and what will happen if it is not?
     From: Epicurus (Principle Doctrines ('Kuriai Doxai') (frags) [c.290 BCE], 71)
     A reaction: Yet another example of Epicurus moving up a level in his thinking about ethical issues, as in Idea 14517 and Idea 14519. The mark of a true philosopher. This seems to be a key idea for wisdom - to think further ahead than merely what you desire.
Good versus evil has been banefully reduced to happiness versus misfortune [Baudrillard]
     Full Idea: The ideal opposition between good and evil has been reduced to the idealogical oppositions between happiness and misfortune. The reduction of good to happiness is as baneful as that of evil to misfortune.
     From: Jean Baudrillard (The Intelligence of Evil [2004], p.139)
     A reaction: A nice example is the use in the media of the word 'tragic' for every misfortune. See the debate over the translation of the Greek 'eudaimonia'. 'Happiness' seems the wrong translation, if it leads to comments like Baudrillard's.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
The best life is not sensuality, but rational choice and healthy opinion [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: It is not drinking bouts or enjoying boys and women or consuming fish which produces the pleasant life, but sober calculation which searches out reasons for every choice, and drives out opinions which produce turmoil of the soul.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 132)
     A reaction: This more or less sums up what I would call the philosophical life. Spontaneity is good, and some pleasures are killed by excessive thought, but on the whole actions are always better if good reasons are found, and error brings chaos.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / a. Nature of pleasure
True pleasure is not debauchery, but freedom from physical and mental pain [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: When we say that pleasure is the chief good, we do not mean debauchery, but freedom of the body from pain, and of the soul from confusionů. which requires sober contemplation.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 131), quoted by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 10.27
     A reaction: I'm not clear how lack of pain and confusion counts as pleasure. Also the concepts of debauchery held by the puritan and the sybarite are wildly different.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / b. Types of pleasure
The end for Epicurus is static pleasure [Epicurus, by Annas]
     Full Idea: Epicurus identifies our final end with what he calls tranquillity or 'ataraxia', which is static pleasure.
     From: report of Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by Julia Annas - The Morality of Happiness Ch.7
Pains of the soul are worse than pains of the body, because it feels the past and future [Epicurus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The pains of the soul are worst, for the flesh is only sensible of present affliction, but the soul feels the past, present and future.
     From: report of Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 10.29
     A reaction: I don't think feeling extended across time is very relevant. What matters is that pains of the soul usually endure far longer than physical suffering.
Pleasures only differ in their duration and the part of the body affected [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: If every pleasure lasted long, and affected the whole body, then there would be no difference between one pleasure and another
     From: Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]), quoted by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 10.31.08
     A reaction: This seems to miss out on intensity, which is of great importance to most pleasure seekers. Also it is a pleasure to be alive, which is lifelong, but we barely notice it.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / c. Value of pleasure
We only need pleasure when we have the pain of desire [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: We are in need of pleasure only when we are in pain because of the absence of pleasure, and when we are not in pain, then we no longer need pleasure.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Menoeceus [c.291 BCE], 128)
     A reaction: This Buddhist aspiration to eliminate desire has no appeal for me. It just sounds like a recipe for boredom, and an aversion to risk-taking. Start by asking what is best in life; it inevitably involves pleasure of some sort. Anyway, desire isn't painful.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / e. Role of pleasure
Pleasure and virtue entail one another [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: It is not possible to live pleasantly without living intelligently and finely and justly, nor to live intelligently and finely and justly without living pleasantly.
     From: Epicurus (Principle Doctrines ('Kuriai Doxai') (frags) [c.290 BCE], 5), quoted by Julia Annas - The Morality of Happiness Ch.16