EPICURUS

, a celebrated ancient philosopher, was born at Gargettium in Attica, in the 109th Olympiad, or about 340 years before Christ. He settled at Athens in a fine garden he had bought; where he lived with his friends in much tranquillity, and educated a great number of disciples; who lived all in common with their master. His school was never divided, but his doctrine was followed as an oracle; and the respect which his followers paid to his memory is admirable; his birth day being still kept in Pliny's time, and even the very month he was born in observed as a continued festival, and his picture placed every where. He wrote a great many books, and valued himself upon making no quotations. He raised the atomical system to great reputation, though he was not the inventor of it, but only made some change in that of Democritus. As to his doctrine concerning the supreme good or happiness, it was very liable to be misrepresented, and some ill effects proceeded from thence, which discredited his sect, though undeservedly. He was charged with perverting the worship of the gods, and inciting men to debauchery. But he did not forget himself on this occasion: he published his opinions to the whole world; wrote some books of devotion; recommended the ve- neration of the gods, sobriety, and chastity, living in an exemplary manner, and conformably to the rules of philosophical wisdom and frugality. He died of a suppression of urine, at 72 years of age.—Gassendus has given us all he could collect from the ancients concerning the person and doctrine of this philosopher.

Epicurean Philosophy, the doctrine, or system of philosophy maintained by Epicurus and his followers. This consisted of three parts; canonical, physical, and ethical. The first respected the canons or rules of judging; in which soundness and simplicity of sense, assisted by some natural reflections, chiefly formed his art. His search after truth proceeded only by the senses; to the evidence of which he gave so great a certainty, that he considered them as an infallible rule of truth, and termed them the First natural light of mankind.

In the 2d part of his philosophy he laid down atoms, space, and gravity, as the first principles of all things. He asserted the existence of God, whom he accounted a blessed immortal being, but who did not concern himself with human affairs.

As to his ethics, he made the supreme good of man to consist in pleasure, and consequently supreme evil in pain. Nature itself, says he, teaches us this truth; and prompts us from our birth to procure whatever gives us pleasure, and avoid what gives us pain. To this end he proposes a remedy against the sharpness of pain, which was to divert the mind from it, by turning our whole attention upon the pleasures we have formerly enjoyed. He held that the wise man must be happy, as long as he is wise: the pain, not depriving him of his wisdom, cannot deprive him of his happiness: from which it would seem that his pleasure consisted rather in intellectual than in sensual enjoyments: though this is a point strongly contested.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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EPACT
EPAULE
EPAULEMENT
EPHEMERIS
EPICHARMUS
* EPICURUS
EPICUREANS
EPICYCLE
EPICYCLOID
EPISTYLE
EPOCHA