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Summary Epicurus (341-271 BCE) was one of the most influential Hellenistic philosophers. He revived the atomism of Democritus and rejected 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. Epicurus' 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. Epicurus' 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. Many of Epicurus' philosophical views must be gleaned from the works of later philosophers,such as Lucretius and Cicero. Long & Sedley 1987 and Inwood & 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.
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  1. The Philosophy of Epicurus. [REVIEW]B. D. A. - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (2):310-310.
  2. Epicurus and Erotion.J. Adam - 1893 - The Classical Review 7 (07):303-304.
  3. The Philosophy of Epicurus-An Unclosed Chapter in Human Thought.E. W. Adams - 1921 - Hibbert Journal 20:88.
  4. Platonic Pleasures in Epicurus and Al-Rāzī.P. Adamson - 2008 - In Peter Adamson (ed.), In the Age of Al-Fārābī: Arabic Philosophy in the Fourth-Tenth Century. Warburg Institute. pp. 71--97.
  5. Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds: A History of Philosophy Wthout Any Gaps, Volume 2.Peter Adamson - 2015 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Peter Adamson offers an accessible, humorous tour through a period of eight hundred years when some of the most influential of all schools of thought were formed. He introduces us to Cynics and Skeptics, Epicureans and Stoics, emperors and slaves, and traces the development of early Christian philosophy and of ancient science. A major theme of the book is in fact the competition between pagan and Christian philosophy in this period, and the Jewish tradition appears in the shape of Philo (...)
  6. Epicurean Political Philosophy.Thomas W. Africa - 1979 - International Studies in Philosophy 11:213-214.
  7. Long's Essays (A.A.) Long From Epicurus to Epictetus. Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy. Pp. Xvi + 439. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006. Cased, £55 (Paper, £24). ISBN: 978-0-19-927911-1 (978-0-19-927912-8 Pbk). [REVIEW]Sara Ahbel-Rappe - 2008 - The Classical Review 58 (2):396-.
  8. Epicurus and Aesthetic Disinterestedness.Celkyte Aiste - 2017 - Mare Nostrum 7:56-74.
    ABSTRACT: Aesthetic disinterestedness is one of the central concepts in aesthetics, and Jerome Stolnitz, the most prominent theorist of disinterestedness in the 20th century, has claimed that (i) ancient thinkers engagement with this notion was cursory and undeveloped, and consequently, (ii) the emergence of disinterestedness in the 18th century marks the birth of aesthetics as a discipline. In this paper, I use the extant works of Epicurus to show that the ancient philosopher not only had similar concepts, but also motivated (...)
  9. The Epicurean Theory of Law and Justice.Antonina Alberti - 1995 - In André Laks & Malcolm Schofield (eds.), Justice and Generosity: Studies in Hellenistic Social and Political Philosophy: Proceedings of the Sixth Symposium Hellenisticum. Cambridge University Press. pp. 161--90.
  10. Beruhigung und Beunruhigung. Über den Umgang mit Unsicherheit bei Epikur und in der Philosophie der Orientierung.Ben Alberts - 2016 - In Benjamin Alberts, Andreas Rupschus, Ekaterina Poljakova & Andrea Bertino (eds.), Zur Philosophie der Orientierung. Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 33-48.
    Epikurs Philosophie ist Ausdruck seines Ringens um Orientierung. Es geht ihm nicht um ein abstraktes, theoretisches, auf Wahrheiten basierendes Lehrsystem, sondern um die Praxis eines gelingenden Lebens. Durch nüchterne Planung und Einsicht in die Abläufe der Natur will er Ängste vermeiden und eine sichere Orientierung auch im Umgang mit dem Ungewissen gewährleisten. Der Epikureismus lässt sich mit grundlegenden Begriffen und Konzepten der Philosophie der Orientierung deuten, darunter Vertrauen, Autorität, Plausibilität, Paradoxien, Orientierung in Routinen und Orientierung durch Achtung und Planung. -/- (...)
  11. Hellenistic and Early Imperial Philosophy. [REVIEW]Keimpe Algra - 2004 - Phronesis 49 (2):202-217.
  12. The Mechanism of Social Appropriation and its Role in Hellenistic Ethics.Keimpe Algra - 2003 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 25:265-296.
  13. Hellenistic Philosophy. [REVIEW]Keimpe Algra - 2000 - Phronesis 45 (1):77-86.
  14. Aristotle and Hellenistic Philosophy. [REVIEW]Keimpe Algra - 1998 - Phronesis 44 (2):150-161.
  15. Experience as a Source and Ground of Theory in Epicureanism.James Allen - 2004 - Apeiron 37 (4):89 - 106.
  16. The Stoics and Epicurus: Extract From Être Marxiste En Philosophie.Louis Althusser & G. M. Goshgarian - 2015 - Diacritics 43 (2):10-14.
  17. Epicurean Hedonism as Qualitative Hedonism.Andrew Alwood - 2018 - Journal of Value Inquiry 52 (4):411-427.
    Epicurus’ theory of what is good for a person is hedonistic: only pleasure has intrinsic value. Critics object that Epicurus is committed to advocating sensualist excess, since hedonism seems both to imply that more pleasure is always of some good for you, and to recommend even debauched, sensual kinds of pleasure. However, Epicurus can respond to this objection much like J. S. Mill responds to the objection that hedonism is a “doctrine worthy only of swine”. I argue that Epicurus’ hedonism (...)
  18. Problems in Epicurus' Theory of Vision.Jeremy Anderson - manuscript
    Epicurus emphatically asserts the veracity of perception, including visual perception, yet most of the literature on Epicurus’ atomistic theory of vision pays scant attention to what Epicurus believed transpires outside the body that leads to it. The treatments by DeWitt, Everson, Hicks, and Rist are all very brief; Glidden focuses primarily on the processes occurring inside the perceiver; and while the discussions by Asmis and Bailey are more detailed, they hardly more than note in passing that the process is problematic.1 (...)
  19. The Morality of Happiness.Julia Annas - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
    Ancient ethical theories, based on the notions of virtue and happiness, have struck many as an attractive alternative to modern theories. But we cannot find out whether this is true until we understand ancient ethics--and to do this we need to examine the basic structure of ancient ethical theory, not just the details of one or two theories. In this book, Annas brings together the results of a wide-ranging study of ancient ethical philosophy and presents it in a way that (...)
  20. Epicurus on Agency.Julia Annas - 1993 - In Martha Nussbaum & Jacques Brunschwig (eds.), Passions and Perceptions: Studies in Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 53-71.
  21. Epicurus on Pleasure and Happiness.Julia Annas - 1987 - Philosophical Topics 15 (2):5-21.
  22. Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind.Julia E. Annas - 1992 - University of California Press.
    "Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind" is an elegant survey of Stoic and Epicurean ideas about the soul an introduction to two ancient schools whose belief in the soul's physicality offer compelling parallels to modern approaches in the ...
  23. Cicero’s De Finibus.Julia Annas & Gábor Betegh (eds.) - 2016 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  24. Heroic-Idyllic Philosophizing: Nietzsche and the Epicurean Tradition.Keith Ansell-Pearson - 2014 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 74:237-263.
    This essay looks at Nietzsche in relation to the Epicurean tradition. It focuses on his middle period writings of 1878 texts such as Human, all too Human, Dawn, and The Gay Science heroic-idyllic philosophizing’. At the same time, Nietzsche claims to understand Epicurus differently to everybody else. The essay explores the main figurations of Epicurus we find in his middle period and concludes by taking a critical look at his later and more ambivalent reception of Epicurus.
  25. The Evidence in Ancient Philosophy.Javier Aoiz - 2014 - Azafea: Revista de Filosofia 16:165-179.
    Enargeia became a technical term –to which Cicero coined the neologism evidentia for its translation– in the Hellenistic Epistemology, so it seems, beginning from Epicurus. In his analysis of the perceptive evidence he developed a relevant reformulation of the nature of perceiving and the Aristotelian typology of sensibilia which bases the truth of perception on the autonomy and opacity of each one of the senses in relation to the rest of the senses and other faculties such as memory or reason. (...)
  26. Epicureans on Marriage as Sexual Therapy.Kelly Arenson - 2016 - Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought 2 (33):291-311.
    This paper argues that although Epicureans will never marry for love, they may find it therapeutic to marry for sex: Epicureans may marry in order to limit anxiety about securing a sexual partner if they are prone to such anxiety and if they believe their prospective partner will satisfy them sexually. The paper shows that Epicureans believe that the process of obtaining sex can be a major source of anxiety, that it is acceptable for the sage to marry under certain (...)
  27. Review of David Konstan, A Life Worthy of the Gods: The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus. [REVIEW]Kelly E. Arenson - 2010 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (1):pp. 95-96.
    In this modestly expanded edition of his 1973 book, Some Aspects of Epicurean Psychology , David Konstan attempts to flesh out the Epicurean explanation of the causes of unhappiness: “empty beliefs” —most importantly, the groundless fear of death—and the irrational desires that fuel and are fueled by them. Konstan’s central argument, preserved from the earlier edition, is deceptively simple: empty beliefs, according to Epicureans, are in large part the product of a symbolic association—a “linguistic confusion”—of the afterlife with certain real-life (...)
  28. Epicurus and Lucretius on Sex, Love and Marriage.B. Arkins - 1984 - Apeiron 18 (2):141 - 143.
  29. The Gods in Plato, Plotinus, Epicurus.A. H. Armstrong - 1938 - Classical Quarterly 32 (3-4):190-.
  30. Epicurean Virtues, Epicurean Friendship: Cicero Vs. The Herculaneum Papyri.David Armstrong - 2011 - In Jeffrey Fish & Kirk R. Sanders (eds.), Epicurus and the Epicurean Tradition. Cambridge University Press. pp. 105-128.
  31. Epicurean Justice.John Armstrong - 1997 - Phronesis 42 (3):324-334.
    Epicurus is one of the first social contract theorists, holding that justice is an agreement neither to harm nor be harmed. He also says that living justly is necessary and sufficient for living pleasantly, which is the Epicurean goal. Some say that there are two accounts of justice in Epicurus -- one as a personal virtue, the other as a virtue of institutions. I argue that the personal virtue derives from compliance with just social institutions, and so we need to (...)
  32. Lucretius and the Fears of Death.Peter Aronoff - 1997 - Dissertation, Cornell University
    The Epicureans argued that death was nothing to us and that we should not fear death, and this thesis takes up these arguments as they appear in our fullest extant source, the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius. After an initial look at the general Epicurean theory of emotions, the thesis narrows in on the fears of death. Lucretius starts from a popular dichotomy concerning death: death is either the utter destruction of the person who dies, or the person survives in (...)
  33. Plotinus and Epicurus: Matter, Perception, Pleasure.Cinzia Arruzza - 2018 - Ancient Philosophy 38 (1):232-236.
  34. Plotinus and Epicurus: Matter, Perception, Pleasure.Cinzia Arruzza - 2017 - Ancient Philosophy 37 (2):479-483.
  35. Epicurean Empiricism.Elizabeth Asmis - 2009 - In James Warren (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 84.
  36. Free Action and the Swerve: Review of Walter G. Englert, "Epicurus on the Swerve and Voluntary Action". [REVIEW]Elizabeth Asmis - 1990 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 8:275.
  37. Lucretius and Epicurus.Elizabeth Asmis - 1985 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 23 (3):424-425.
  38. Epicurus' Scientific Method.Elizabeth Asmis - 1984 - Cornell University Press.
  39. The Epicurean Theory of Free Will and its Origins in Aristotle.Elizabeth Asmis - 1970 - Dissertation, Yale University
  40. Epicurus: An Introduction.Elizabeth Asmis & J. M. Rist - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (3):413.
  41. Beleuchtung der Epikureischen Ethik.Georg Anton Friedrich Ast - 1831
  42. Philosophy of Language.Catherine Atherton - 2009 - In James Warren (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 197.
  43. Reductionism, Rationality and Responsibility: A Discussion of Tim O'Keefe, Epicurus on Freedom.Catherine Atherton - 2007 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):192-230.
    O'Keefe's contention that Epicurus devised the atomic swerve to counter a threat to the efficacy of reason posed by the thesis that the future is fixed regardless of what we do, is not supported by the evidence he adduces. Epicurus' own words in On nature XXV, and testimony from Lucretius and Cicero, tell far more strongly in favour of the traditional view, that Epicurus' concerns were causal determinism and its threat to moral responsiblity for our actions and characters.
  44. Epicurus and the Politics of Fearing Death.Emily A. Austin - 2012 - Apeiron 45 (2):109-129.
  45. On Some Epicurean and Lucretian Arguments for the Infinity of the Universe.Ivars Avotins - 1983 - Classical Quarterly 33 (02):421-.
    As is well known, Epicurus and his followers held that the universe was infinite and f that its two primary components, void and atoms, were each infinite. The void was infinite in extension, the atoms were infinite in number and their total was infinite also in extension. The chief Epicurean proofs of these infinities are found in Epicurus, Ad Herod. 41–2, and in Lucretius 1.951–1020. As far as I can see, both the commentators to these works and writers on Epicurean (...)
  46. On Some Epicurean and Lucretian Arguments for the Infinity of the Universe.Ivars Avotins - 1983 - Classical Quarterly 33 (2):421-427.
    As is well known, Epicurus and his followers held that the universe was infinite and f that its two primary components, void and atoms, were each infinite. The void was infinite in extension, the atoms were infinite in number and their total was infinite also in extension. The chief Epicurean proofs of these infinities are found in Epicurus, Ad Herod. 41–2, and in Lucretius 1.951–1020. As far as I can see, both the commentators to these works and writers on Epicurean (...)
  47. Sur les dieux d¿ Épicure.Daniel Babut - 2005 - Elenchos: Rivista di Studi Sul Pensiero Antico 26 (1):79-110.
  48. Bayle et l'éthique épicurienne.Fernando Bahr - 2009 - Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia 50 (120):407-421.
  49. Epicurus, Πepi Φυσeωσ Achille Vogliano: I Resti Dell' XI Libro Del Περ Φσεως di Epicuro. (Publications de la Socieété Fouad I de Papyrologie: Textes Et Documents, IV.) Pp. X+60. Cairo: Institut Français; d'Archéologie Orientale, 1940. Paper, P.Eg. 30. [REVIEW]C. Bailey - 1947 - The Classical Review 61 (02):57-59.
  50. Epicurus, Πepi Φυσeωσ. [REVIEW]C. Bailey - 1947 - The Classical Review 61 (2):57-59.
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