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Summary Epicureanism is the philosophical system formulated by Epicurus (341-271 BCE). It was one of the most influential and popular philosophical schools in the Hellenistic era. Epicureanism revives the atomism of Democritus and rejects the teleology of Aristotle and the immaterial soul and forms of Plato. All events are the result of indivisible bodies (atoms) interacting in the void, and the gods have no role in the workings of the world. Epicurean ethics is a form of ascetic egoistic hedonism. Only one's own pleasure is intrinsically valuable, but the limit of pleasure is freedom from bodily distress and (especially) peace of mind, and the way to acquire peace of mind is by limiting your desires. The Epicurean arguments against the fear of death have been especially influential: death is annihilation, and so your death is bad for you neither when you are alive (as you are not dead) nor when you are dead (as you no longer exist).
Key works Most of Epicurus' writings are lost, but book ten of Diogenes Laertius' Lives of Eminent Philosophers, in its summary of Epicurus' life and teachings, contains three letters by Epicurus that summarize his physics, views on celestial and meteorological phenomena, and ethics. It also includes the "Principal Doctrines," short sayings mainly on ethics. The Roman poet and fervent Epicurean Lucretius (c. 94-55 BCE) composed "On the Nature of Things," a massive 6-book summary of Epicurean physics. The Roman statesmen Cicero (106–43 BCE) includes important summaries of Epicurean arguments in his philosophical works. Long & Sedley 1987 and Gerson 1994 are compendiums of many of the crucial texts, with Long & Sedley 1987 including extensive commentary.
Introductions Konstan 2008 is a good encyclopedia entry on Epicurus. O'Keefe 2009 is an accessible book-length overview of the Epicurean philosophical system, while Warren 2009 contains chapters that deal more extensively with the current scholarly literature.
Related categories
Subcategories:
Epicurus (1,122)
Lucretius (1,142)
Philodemus (172)

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  1. Review: Diogenes Laertius: Lives of Eminent Philosophers: An Edited Translation by Stephen White. [REVIEW]Anthony Hejduk - 2022 - Review of Metaphysics 75 (4):837-838.
    Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of Eminent Philosophers occupies a unique place in the history of Western philosophy. In addition to its valuable summaries of the doctrines of philosophers and their schools, it is often the best, or, indeed, the only source available for biographical details of many figures. Yet, as a work, it is often criticized for a lack of originality and critical judgement, notable only because it happened to survive while all other philosophical histories of the era did not, or (...)
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  2. Epicureans and Stoics on the Rationality of Perception.Whitney Schwab & Simon Shogry - forthcoming - Wiley: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  3. A Memorandum for Past Millennia: Excising the Plague From Lucretius's De Rerum Natura.Ryan Johnson - 2021 - In Casey Ford, Suzanne McCullagh & Karen Houle (eds.), Minor ethics: Deleuzian variations. McGill-Queen's University Press.
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  4. The Place of ‘Tactus’ in Lucretius.Ursula Schoenheim - 1966 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 110 (1-2):71-87.
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  5. The Intricate Translation of the Epicurean Doctrine of Ψυχη in Book 3 of Lucretius.David Mehl - 1999 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 143 (2):272-287.
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  6. A Note on Lucretius de Rerum Natura 3.84.D. Mark Possanza - 1989 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 133 (1-2):55-62.
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  7. The Upside-Down Back-to-Front Sceptic of Lucretius IV 472.M. F. Burnyeat - 1978 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 122 (1):197-206.
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  8. The Upside-Down Back-to-Front Sceptic of Lucretius IV 472.M. F. Bürnyeat - 1978 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 122 (1-2):197-206.
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  9. Lucretius on the ‘Water of the Sun’.Η. Β Gottschalk - 1966 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 110 (1-2):311-315.
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  10. Problems with Lions: Lucretius and Plutarch.S. R. West - 1975 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 119 (1-2):150-152.
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  11. A Peculiar Omission in Lucretius’ Account of Human Civilization.Friedrich Solmsen - 1970 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 114 (1-2):256-261.
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  12. Πρός Τᾧ Bei Sextus Empiricus Und Diogenes Laertius.Karel Janáček - 1962 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 106 (1-2):134-137.
  13. V. Handbücher Als Quellen des Diogenes Laërtius.Ε Ηοwald - 1917 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 74 (1-4):119-130.
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  14. X. Bemerkungen Zum Vierten Buche des Lucretius.Fr Susemihl & A. Brieger - 1869 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 29 (1-4):421-451.
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  15. XVIII. Bemerkungen Zum Vierten Buche des Lucretius.A. Brieger & Fr Susemihl - 1874 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 33 (1-4):431-448.
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  16. II. Zu Lucretius.P. Langen - 1875 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 34 (1-4):28-39.
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  17. IX. Zu Lucretius.Fr Polle - 1867 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 25 (1-4):269-284.
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  18. I. ABHANDLUNGEN: V. Kritisch-exegetische bemerkungen zum zweiten buche des Lucretius.A. Brieger - 1867 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 25 (1-4).
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  19. XI. Kritisch-Exegetische Bemerkungen Zum Zweiten Buche des Lucretius.F. Susemihl & A. Brieger - 1866 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 24 (1-4):422-453.
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  20. XVII.Fernerweitige Bemerkungen Zum Ersten Buche des Lucretius.Fr Susemihl & A. Brieger - 1866 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 23 (1-4):623-643.
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  21. XIII.Fernerweitige Bmerkungen Zum Ersten Buche Lies Lucretius.A. Brieger - 1866 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 23 (1-4):455-472.
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  22. 5. Zu Lucretius I, 24 F.H. Sauppe - 1865 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 22 (1-4):182-182.
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  23. XXX. Zu Lucretius.Hugo Purmann - 1852 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 7 (1-4):733-737.
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  24. 12. Zu Lucretius.Lucian Müller - 1860 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 15 (1-3):157-162.
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  25. Zu Lucretius.Ernst von Leutsch - 1857 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 12 (1-4):292-292.
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  26. XIII. Kritische Bemerkungen Zum Ersten Buche des Lucretius.Fr Susemihl & A. Brieger - 1859 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 14 (1-4):550-567.
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  27. Lucretius II, 672.F. W. Schneidewin - 1854 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 9 (1-4):645-645.
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  28. Zu Lucretius.M. Hertz - 1851 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 6 (1-4):34-34.
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  29. II. Conjecturen Zu Diogenes Laertius.Gottlieb Roeper - 1848 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 3 (1-4):22-65.
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  30. III. Beiträge Zur Kritik des Lucretius.Hugo Purmann - 1848 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 3 (1-4):66-76.
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  31. XXIV. Das Verhältnis des Lucretius Carus Zur Musik.Karl Hartmann - 1909 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 68 (4):529-536.
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  32. IV. Neue Bemerkungen Zum Ersten Buche des Lucretius.Fr Susemihl & A. Eussner - 1885 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 44 (1):61-87.
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  33. XIV. Bemerkungen Zum Vierten Buche des Lucretius.A. Brieger, Fr Susemihl & K. E. Georges - 1873 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 32 (3):478-489.
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  34. II. Bemerkungen Zum Dritten Buche des Lucretius.Fr Susemihl & A. Brieger - 1868 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 27 (1):28-57.
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  35. 5. Zu Lucretius.K. Fr Hermann - 1853 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 8 (1):180-181.
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  36. Cave Myths and the Metaphorics of Light: Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius.Andrea Nightingale - 2017 - Arion 24 (3):39.
  37. Epicureans and the City’s Laws.Sara Diaco - 2022 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 104 (2):312-336.
    The article discusses the accusation advanced by Plutarch and Cicero, according to which the Epicureans are unjust, as they would break the law to pursue pleasure if certain of impunity, and deals with this criticism by analyzing the Epicurean theory of law and justice and comparing it with friendship. The article argues that, from a doctrinal standpoint, philia has a higher place in the Epicurean’s priorities and a stronger efficacy than positive law in serving the naturally just. It thus concludes (...)
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  38. Body and Soul in Hellenistic Philosophy, Edited by Brad Inwood and James Warren (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). [REVIEW]John Sellars - 2022 - Philosophy 97 (2):263-265.
  39. Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Eminent Philosophers".Brian Gregor - 2022 - Philosophy in Review 42 (1):23-25.
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  40. Epicurean Ethics (Oxford Bibliographies Online).Max Robitzsch & Clerk Shaw - 2021 - Oxford Bibliographies Online.
    An annotated bibliography of assorted topics in Epicurean ethics. Includes sections on: pleasure; moral psychology; virtue; friendship; sex, love, marriage, and children; death; and the Epicurean way of life.
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  41. Philosophy at the Gym.Erik Kenyon - manuscript
    Ethical philosophy was born in the gyms of Athens. This book returns a body of abstract thought to its original context, to understand how training for the body sparked training for the mind. We will use archaeology to reconstruct the reality of ancient athletics and literary texts to critique philosophers’ idealized versions of this reality. We will explore a cluster of questions about the nature of happiness (eudaimonia), the role of human excellence (arete) in this life and what forms of (...)
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  42. Lives of Pleasure: A Comparative Essay on Cārvāka and Epicurean Ethics.Christopher Paone - forthcoming - Philosophy East and West 72 (4).
    A long-lived and lively tradition of materialist philosophers flourished in classical India and in classical Greece. Due to the condition of their texts, however, they do not often receive close study. This essay compares the views of the classical Indian materialists, the Cārvākas, and the classical Greek materialists, the Epicureans. The first section introduces their philosophies. The second outlines their doctrines of empiricism and materialism. The third and fourth turn to two comparative topics in Cārvāka and Epicurean ethics: their views (...)
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  43. Deleuze's Metaphysics of Structure in Difference and Repetition.Yannis Chatzantonis - manuscript
    This essay describes and evaluates the conception of mereological structure that underpins Deleuze’s account of ontogenesis in Difference and Repetition. A theory of mereology is a theory of composition: it asks what it is to be a part making a whole, what it is to be a whole collecting its parts; in short, in what the relation of making or composing consists. The locus classicus for modern mereology is the third of Husserl’s Logical Investigations (‘On the Theory of Wholes and (...)
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  44. The C** Word: Covid-19 and Calculation.Dimitris Vardoulakis - 2020 - The Philosophical Salon.
    Calculation is omnipresent in the current pandemic. And yet, Continental philosophers never talk about calculation: it seems to be the c** of philosophy. Why is that so? Has it always been like that?
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  45. Glossarium Epicureum.Phillip De Lacy, Hermann Karl Usener, M. Gigante & W. Schmid - 1979 - American Journal of Philology 100 (3):468.
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  46. The Sculpted Word: Epicureanism and Philosophical Recruitment in Ancient Greece.Diskin Clay & Bernard Frischer - 1984 - American Journal of Philology 105 (4):484.
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  47. Sceptical Buddhism as Provenance and Project.James Mark Shields - 2020 - In Oren Hanner (ed.), Buddhism and Scepticism: Historical, Philosophical, and Comparative Perspectives. Freiburg/Bochum: pp. 161-177.
  48. Neo-Epicureanism.Dimitris Vardoulakis - 2019 - Philosophy Today 63 (4):1013-1024.
    By looking at its history, this article emphasizes the importance of practical judgment for materialism. This sense of practical judgment is traced back to the function of phronesis in one of the ancient schools of materialism, namely, the Epicureans.
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  49. The Hellenistic Philosophers - A. A. Long, D. N. Sedley: The Hellenistic Philosophers, Vol. 1: Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary, Vol. 2: Greek and Latin Texts with Notes and Bibliography. Pp. Xv + 512, X + 512; 1 Line Drawing. Cambridge University Press, 1987. Vol. 1 , Vol. 2. [REVIEW]G. B. Kerferd - 1989 - The Classical Review 39 (1):49-51.
  50. M. Gigante: Kepos e Peripatos: Contributo alla storia dell’aristotelismo antico. Pp. 159. Naples: Bibliopolis, 1999. Paper, L. 35,000. ISBN: 88-7088-308-6. [REVIEW]J. I. Daniel - 2002 - The Classical Review 52 (1):174-175.
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