A simple garden

by Lorenzo Piccoli

Epicurus led a commune of followers in an Athenian garden in the early third-century BC. The aim of philosophy, he maintained, is to help people living a tranquil life and overcoming the fear of death. “All good and evil lie in sensation, whereas death is the absence of sensation,” wrote Epicurus in a letter. “Hence a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding infinite time, but by ridding us of the desire for immortality.” That is why Epicurus – in contrast to the crude hedonism invented by his detractors – denounced the rapidly rotting fruits of dissipation and excess. The constant pursuit of intense pleasures will in fact back-fire, because it leads to the psychological hell of enslavement to insatiable appetites. The best sort of life, suggests Epicurus, is one that is free from pain in the body and from disturbance in the mind. This is an important philosophy today, as we are inundated by instant gratifications and toxic distractions.