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7 - Psychology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2009

James Warren
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Although 'psychology' does not constitute a distinct sub-division of Epicurean theory, the term can be used to refer to a number of well-marked topics in their philosophical framework. These include (1) the bodily nature of the psyche, (2) the atomic composition of the psyche, and (3) links between psychological functions and the structure of the body. These topics fall, broadly, under 'physics' in Epicurean philosophy. However, the bodily and atomic nature of the psyche also has implications for Epicurean ethics, implications that can also be seen as part of their thinking about psychology. These implications include (4) the capacity of the psyche, in human beings, for the development of agency and responsibility, and (5) the mortal nature of the psyche. Also relevant is (6) Epicurean use of psychological language in ethical contexts, often without explicit reference to the bodily or atomic nature of the psyche, and (7) the psychological assumptions underlying the Epicurean therapy of beliefs and emotions. The focus here is on the first four topics, illustrated by reference to certain key sources, and on the issue of how to understand the theory of psyche-body relations implied in these ideas (Sections II-V). However, there is briefer comment on the latter three topics, indicating how the conception of psychology involved in those topics depends on, or is at least compatible with, Epicurean thinking about the psyche as bodily (Section VI).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • Psychology
  • 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/CCOL9780521873475.008
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  • Psychology
  • 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/CCOL9780521873475.008
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.

  • Psychology
  • 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/CCOL9780521873475.008
Available formats
×