He studied under Nausiphanes , who followed the teachings of Democritus ,   and later those of Pyrrho ,   whose way of life Epicurus greatly admired. Epicurus came of age at a time when Greek intellectual horizons were vastly expanding due to the rise of the Hellenistic Kingdoms across the Near East. Nonetheless, Epicurus differed from his predecessors on several key points of determinism and vehemently denied having been influenced by any previous philosophers, whom he denounced as "confused". Instead, he insisted that he had been "self-taught".
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As a way of review, here are a number of quotes along with my brief comments. He thought of his writings as maps drawn to larger and smaller scales. The process of learning was regarded as a progression from general maps with few details to regional maps, as it were, with a proportionate increase in detail".
Norman Wentworth DeWitt has written a most extraordinary book on Epicurus. And this is exactly what DeWitt does in his book, first giving us the general overview of Epicurean philosophy in the first chapters and then filling in the details in the later chapters.
Men and women wore his image on finger-rings; they displayed painted portraits of him in their living rooms; the more affluent honored him with likenesses in marble. Is it any wonder followers who embraced his philosophy held him to be a savior and wanted to look upon his face as a constant reminder of his principles? The Christians, though by no means blind to the merits of his ethics, abhorred him for his denial of divine providence and immortality. These were two good reasons those holding opposite beliefs despised Epicurus.
Platonism and skepticism were among his chief abominations. The false opinion is to think of him opposed to Stoicism. Epicurus did not outline his philosophy as a counter to the Stoics and Stoic philosophy since Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, came years after Epicurus. Rather, Epicurus was strongly anti-Platonism; matter of fact, Epicurus in many respects was the anti-Plato.
DeWitt cites four main Platonic ideas noted below and elaborates on how Epicurus rejected all four: 1 "Dramatization of logic, which is called dialectic, best exemplified by the Platonic dialogues. All that the human being perceived was the transient appearance of things as opposed to the eternal ideas.
This to Epicurus was virtually skepticism. With great foresight, Epicurus anticipated what such a rejection and hatred of the body can lead to — the masochistic scourging and whipping and starving of the body during the medieval period.
This seemed both shocking and absurd to Epicurus; shocking because it meant having more gods to fear, absurd because august gods were assumed to become hurling balls of fire. And lastly, below are some key Epicurean ideas along with my comments that have a particular relevance for our 21st century: "The new creed of Epicurus became applicable to women as well as to men and to human beings of all ages, whether slave or free.
The philosophy of Epicurus was urbane and universal, thus Greeks and non-Greeks, men and women and even slaves could become Epicureans. What a treasure from the ancient world.
Epicurus and His Philosophy