When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and the aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasure of sensuality... By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul.
The Tumult of the Soul
Topic: Joy & Happiness
“When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and the aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasure of sensuality, as we are understood to do through ignorance, prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking bouts and of revelry, not sexual lust, not the enjoyment of fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, that produces a pleasant life. It is rather sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs that lead to the tumult of the soul.”
Letter to Menoeceus
Cook, Vincent. “Epicurus - Letter to Menoeceus.” Epicurus & Epicurean Philosophy, www.epicurus.net/en/menoeceus.html, [Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus].
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Epicurus disparages the “crass hedonism” which emphasizes physical pleasure, and instead claims that the philosophical pursuit of wisdom with close friends is the greatest of pleasures…. [See Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus quote in Context.]
–Vincent Cook [“Epicurus – Letter to Menoeceus.” Epicurus & Epicurean Philosophy].
Letter to Menoeceus
While we have lost most of Epicurus’ treatises on ethics and happiness, his basic ideas are clearly outlined in his justly famous Letter to Menoeceus. He begins with a claim familiar from Plato and Aristotle: that we all desire happiness as an end in itself, and all other things are desired as a means for producing happiness. But what is happiness? [See Pursuit of Happiness link in Resources.]
–Mark Setton [Epicurus and Happiness, Pursuit of Happiness website].