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C LASSICS 36: L ECTURE S EVENTEEN F REEDOM F ROM D ISTURBANCE : E PICURUS , L ETTER TO M ENOECEUS & M AXIMS I. Hellenistic philosophy seen against its cultural background 1. Three main schools of Hellenistic philosophy: Epicureanism, Stoicism, Scepticism • developed during and immediately after age of Alexander the Great (late 4th to 3rd century B.C.); persisted in influence through Roman 2. Hellenistic age marked by collapse of the city-state ( polis ), absorbed into Macedonian empire Cultural/philosophical consequences: • less importance to being a citizen, less emphasis on political philosophy • cosmopolitanism; human nature transcends social differences in this world rather than through kinship with the divine; more open to social diversity • negativity (protectiveness) of the ideal of life (new sense of smallness in a big world?): for Epicurus 'freedom from disturbance' or 'tranquillity' ( ataraxia ), for Stoics 'impassivity' ( apatheia), for Sceptics 'indifference' ( adiaphoria ) 3. Note on sources • technical philosophic works of the founding thinkers of each of the three schools survive only in fragments • 'Letters' and 'Maxims' of Epicurus survive entire II. Epicurus 4. Chronology born 341 B.C. on Samos (Plato d.347, Ar. d.322); founded school ('the Garden') at Athens 307/6; died at Athens 270. 5. The first great fear from which we must be liberated in order to attain happiness: Fear of death 5.1 Note, as always in Greek ethics, the ‘eudaemonism’ here: happiness is the unquestioned goal of the good (moral) life. 5.2
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2008 for the course CLASSIC 36 taught by Professor Ferrari during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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