Download A Life Worthy of the Gods: The Materialist Psychology of by David Konstan PDF

By David Konstan

Epicurus, and his Roman disciple Lucretius, held that the first reason behind human disappointment used to be an irrational worry of demise. what's extra, they believed transparent figuring out of the character of the area may support to put off this worry; for if we know that the universe and every thing in it truly is made of atoms and empty area, we are going to see that the soul can't in all probability live on the extinction of the physique -- and no damage to us can take place once we die. This releasing perception is on the middle of Epicurean treatment. during this booklet, Konstan seeks to teach how such fears arose, in line with the Epicureans, and why they persist even in sleek societies. It deals an in depth exam of the elemental ideas of Epicurean psychology: exhibiting how a procedure in response to a materialistic global view may supply a coherent account of irrational anxieties and wishes, and supply a treatment that might enable people to take pleasure in existence to the fullest measure.

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In the Hellenistic period, however, some philosophical schools did pose the question of why certain emotional responses seem to be resistant to amelioration (for the Stoic account, see Graver 2007: 149–63). The Epicureans in particular held that people are commonly mistaken about the causes of their emotions, and more particularly are universally consumed by the fear of death, a fear they either conceal or misrecognize. To help rid human beings of this anxiety, they elaborated a complex doctrine involving two levels of the soul, the one irrational and the seat of sensations and feelings or pathê, the other rational and the locus of those emotions that depend essentially on belief.

It may indeed have a valid cause, in which case it is justified, or it may not—as in the case of the fear of death, according to Epicurus. It is esssential to fear that it pertain to the rational part of the soul, for if it did not, there would be no possibility of eliminating it by the therapy of philosophy. I take it that khara or joy is also a rational emotion, which responds to an impression of something deemed to be pleasant. As such, it too should be corrigible, and hence able to be mistaken.

It is a question, however, whether there is a necessary element of physical pain or pleasure that serves as the substrate of emotional fear or joy, as is the case for Aristotle, for example. The positive and negative qualities of the emotions do not seem to be directly connected, by Epicurus, to affects of the anima. To speak, then, of “les douleurs de l’âme” (142) may be something of a misnomer. 16 In this, I agree essentially with Diano 1974: 168, save that I speak of the rational and non-rational parts of the soul, where as Diano speaks of the soul vs.

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