15. Epicurus argues that, if one follows his four maxims, one can live a life comparatively free of
suffering. By contrast, Schopenhauer argues that living a life free of suffering is almost impossible.
Outline the reasons they give for their positions, and state which argument you find the most
persuasive and why.
Epicurus believes that we can create a happy life for ourselves by following his 4 maxims (and before a
person can follow his maxims they must be willing to pursue the knowledge of science which would
allow them to attain peace if mind since they will understand how the world works) The 4 maxims are:
Don’t fear God;
since Gods don’t care about us, we shouldn’t fear them because they are not
interested in what we do
Don’t fear death
; his epistemic reason is that death causes no suffering for the living bc they
haven’t experienced death, and it causes no suffering for dead bc they can’t feel. His pragmatic
reason is that even if death is bad, it can only cause us more pain if we let it give us stress
The good is easy to get
; says that our natural desires (food, shelter) are easy to obtain and if we
limit our desires to a type of “stoic mentality”, we would be happier bc we wouldn’t be stressed
out by going after luxuries
The bad is easy to endure
; dictates that if our desires are moderate enough, we can only
encounter physical pain (which is usually short lived/ mild which is easy to endure)
Schopenhauer believes suffering is everywhere and inescapable and we essentially live in a cycle of pain.
To achieve the transcendental life which Schopenhauer believes provides the most happiness, one must
abstain from giving into his will and lead a life of contemplation – which can be achieved by relying on
intellect and knowledge.
In many ways while the 2 philosophers agree that happiness comes from not going after luxuries and
living a life that pursues knowledge. I would argue that Epicurus’ philosophy is more sustainable than
because he takes
a more stoic approach which I believe is more realistic. In detaching
yourself from the world you might avoid pain, but you miss out on pleasures.