Stoic And Epicurean Visions Of "the Good Life"
Ancient Greek philosophy—especially in the "Hellenistic" period following Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.)—aimed to provide not merely accounts of such abstractions from life as "the good" or the "virtuous" but more concrete guidance as to how the good life was to be achieved. In this regard, two schools stand out. The Stoics taught a rigorous adherence to virtue, duty, and honor. These, they reasoned, were subject to our control and attainable through correct discipline of the will; thus attained, they would be a source of happiness regardless of one's external circumstances. The followers of Epicurus (341–270 B.C.E.), like the Stoics, warned against such emotional attachments as could easily threaten one's peace of mind but, unlike the Stoics, identified the goal of life (and the purpose for avoiding such attachments) as pleasure—not the extremes of sensual pleasure, but pleasures moderate in intensity and apt to endure (to be attained through self-sufficiency, simplicity of life, and friendship).
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