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The Essential Epicurus (Great Books in Philosophy) Paperback – May 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0879758103 ISBN-10: 0879758104

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Product Details

  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Paperback: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (May 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879758104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879758103
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek

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Customer Reviews

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Epicurus has two huge virtues that make him worth reading even now.
Jack Kessler
If one reads what he writes carefully, one finds that one doesnt need to go to heaven or even to exist.
louis smith
Very interesting, except some passages were difficult to comprehend.
Kenneth W. Collins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ryan C. Holiday VINE VOICE on March 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not qualified to weigh in on the merits of Epicurus' school of philosophy. As Westerners, we've decided over that two thousand years that his thoughts on death and pleasure and pain are profound and provocative.

What's important to the average reader though is whether this is the book you should pick up to learn about him. The short answer is yes, the longer one is that it is not enough.

The book has a fairly weak introduction that doesn't provide much context. The author would have been well-served to have included the entirety of Laertius' essay on Epicurus to which he dedicated a large portion to in his biography of great philosophers.

Otherwise, the translation is good and the organization is helpful. The book is structured like a college reader - no frills, thin paper and a drab cover. It has all of Epicurus' fragments, letters and writings. Unfortunately many of the best ones are cut off or lost so we have to make due with what is left.

A first time reader or student looking to introduce themselves to Epicurus could do worse than starting here. I often refer back to my copy.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Epicureanism was the chief competitor of christianity until the fourth century. It attracted large numbers of the middle and upper classes with its emphasis on rational hedonism, friendship, and pleasure. Most of the literature of epicureanism was burned by christian missionaries but enough remains for modern readers to see what its great appeal was. This book contains all of the important fragments and a few epistles of Epicurus. Well worth reading. Epicurus provided arguments which were designed to overcome the fear of death and mental slavery to superstition. He also thought very highly of friendship and simple, tranquil living. Epicureanism was designed to help people live happily in this life and it seems to have had a profound affect on many ancients as it became the first and only philosophy developed in ancient Greece which became a missionary philosophy and spread throughout a great deal of the Western world. Anyone interested in a gentle, humane and non-superstitious philosophy of life will find the writings of Epicurus of great interest.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful By louis smith on December 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book does not rely on a god or a saviour to lead a smart and fulfilling life. It relies soley on reason and what an effective use of it by epicurus! Most of epicurus works are either lost or destroyed, but this book contains his essential teachings. Epicurus did not deny the existance of the gods. This would make sense. If the universe is infinite as he says, then all possible things already exist in one way or another. According to epicurus one should live out his natural life, this would be prudent. This life is the only one you get. He writes that by being prudent ie; looking at both sides of an issue to find truth and getting only what you need, you can live a smart and happy life. After life is over one goes to eternal oblivion, free of all suffering forever. The ironic thing about epicurus is that he admits there are gods. If one reads what he writes carefully, one finds that one doesnt need to go to heaven or even to exist. Since it is not needed, one loses nothing. The same thing can be said for the wild goose chase, most people are engaged in for happiness. They want bigger houses, more expensive cars, more cash, etc. and instead of gaining happiness gain more misery. Why? Because the truth is you gain happiness by getting only what you need. Epicurus writes that those who are not satisfied with a little, will never be satisfied even with a lot or even infinity. The more you have above need, the more worry, headache and problems. This in no way is conducive to happiness. These writings are some of the most brilliant in the entire realm of philosophy. This book gets two thumbs up!
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jack Kessler on February 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
Let me say at the outset that Epicurus is hard to understand because we have only fragments of his work.
Epicurus is important to people living in the third millenium because he realized, as most of us do, that traditional religion is not very believable.
In his time the Hellenistic and Roman world was about to fall into a morass of Eastern religions, spiritualism, and superstition familiar to third millenium people living amid Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Wicca, and New Age.
Epicurus has two huge virtues that make him worth reading even now.
He is ferociously smart for one. Some of his insights about physical phenomena millenia before the invention of real scientific instruments are astonishing.
The other is that he is unrelentingly honest and rigorous. His premise is that we only know what we can find out from our senses and our reason. This is immensely liberating from all the causistry, tradition, authority, and sentiment of both culture and counter-culture.
To the ultimate rationalization for religion, "Well, it is a comfort for the simple." he responds, "Truth and honesty are better than comfort." He dismissed death as nothing, and proved his point by showing legendary courage in facing his own.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By no longer a customer on August 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Good introduction for the non-academic, regular Jane/Joe, late night armchair student-scholar wanting to be familiar with the philosophies that have shaped human thought. Early champion of reasoned discourse and even psychotherapy; Epicurus' calm and rational approach to death startled and impressed me. "Must Have" for your library.
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