A copy and paste of my Philosophy stuff last year, but hey...
Epicurus' views on happiness includes "living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends." Might add more in the future, or maybe you can just Google it.
To what extent to I agree on Epicurus’ views on happiness?
To a somewhat extent –happiness, friends, freedom and an analysed life. But the problem is though, ‘happiness’, ‘friends’, ‘freedom’ and ‘life’ don’t in a sense, exist, especially the first three. I agree that if these things existed, they would make you happier. HOWEVER having all those three things can still make you sad.
First up: friends. Good friends or bad friends? Friends who actually like you for who you are, or friends there just for your money? Friends that you actually like, or are you there just for their money? To be surrounded by friends could become annoying, especially if you wanted to plan a surprise something for them. Also, it is very hard to find a ‘true friend’, someone who would give you their life for you to live. Anybody else should not be able to be classified as ‘friend’, and in theory, friends should be forever if they were TRUE friends. Meaning, friends don’t exist because it is impossible to have a true friend, because people change.
Second: freedom. Independent and self sufficient. In a sense, to be free, you must go live by yourself in some far off place. There is no such thing as a ‘free’ country. The law does not allow you to do what ever you want. Other people do not allow you to be who you want or do what you want. You cannot live independently because everything around you would influence you, even if you lived ‘alone’ –that is away from other humans, there will still be more natural fauna and floral whom will influence you. Also, the moment you are conceived, you have cease being independent, because you relied on someone else to give you ‘life’. You cannot be self sufficient. You rely on others who gave you life, you rely on others for water, food. People are not plants who can make their own food –and even they need the help from the sun, and water, and the earth itself to create food. While in life, you are not free, because there is death. And once you are dead, you still can’t be free because you cannot return to life. Freedom is the ability to do anything you want, and to not be tied down by ANYTHING, and during both life and death, there are things that will tie you down. In fact, humans are unable to do many things. Humans eventually die, they need to eat and drink to survive, they have emotions, and they can’t control their body, and they can’t control others to a full extent.
Lastly: an Analysed Life. Self reflection. Of course, if you had friends around you all the time, it would be pretty hard to self reflect, and in terms of freedom, what if you didn’t WANT to self reflect? Analysing your life can make you realise how bad life really is, and make you even more unhappy then you were before you analysed your life. When you analyse your life, you also analyse the things in your life, which would lead you to realise that other people aren’t that good either. Of course, no one has an unbiased mind enough to analyse their life correctly. So in the end, you will get an incorrect report on your life, and will not be able to change your life accordingly to be happier…so analysing your life doe not necessarily make you any happier.
Oh, the contradictories of ‘life’….
Are Epicurus’ views relevant today?
To a somewhat extent, yes. As mentioned, advertising has become a whole lot bigger, flashier and a whole lot more convincing. However, friends have suddenly become a whole lot harder to get, freedom a whole lot harder to obtain and life a whole lot harder to analyse. Nowadays (in terms of First World countries) people are a whole lot ‘smarter’ –reading, writing. There are more recreational activities which people can indulge in which make people happy that didn’t exist in Epicurus’ time, or not dominantly enough for more people to enjoy/not refined enough. So, if you had friends, freedom and an analysed life, theoretically in this modern age you would be happier that the average human. But then, I’m happy reading, or watching a good movie or anime. I like to draw and write –if I didn’t have these things, I don’t know if I would be as happy. Though, I know that if I didn’t know about them, I would be alright without them. But I do know, and lots of people know. I think today, there are more things available to make people happy, other than friends, freedom and an analysed life. So they are still relevant, but not as much as it was during Epicurus’ time.
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