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9 - Pleasure and desire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2009

James Warren
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Pleasure is the goal of life for an Epicurean. But it is pleasure of a particular kind that represents this goal, namely lack of pain in body (aponia) and lack of distress in soul (ataraxia). It is clear that, for Epicurus, to be free from bodily pain and mental distress is, in and of itself, to be in a state of pleasure. He does not recognize a neutral state of neither pleasure nor pain; for a percipient subject, being without pain is already pleasant. Equally, however, Epicurus does not hold that the only pleasure to be had is freedom from pain. The pleasures of the profligate, which he tells us do not represent the Epicurean goal (Ep. Men. 131), certainly are pleasures as far as Epicurus is concerned, since he calls them that, though he adds that such pleasures do not generate a pleasant life - it is 'sober reasoning' that does so (Ep. Men. 132).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • Pleasure and desire
  • Edited by James Warren, University of Cambridge
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism
  • Online publication: 28 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521873475.010
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  • Pleasure and desire
  • Edited by James Warren, University of Cambridge
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism
  • Online publication: 28 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521873475.010
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Pleasure and desire
  • Edited by James Warren, University of Cambridge
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism
  • Online publication: 28 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521873475.010
Available formats
×