Kelly E. Arenson
Duquesne University
Diogenes Laertius reports that the Epicurean sage will pity slaves rather than punish them. This paper considers why a hedonistic egoist would feel pity for her subordinates, given that pity can cause psychological pain. I argue that Epicureans feel bad for those who lack the natural good of security, and that Epicureans’ concern for others is entirely consistent with their hedonistic egoism: they will endure the pain of pity in order to achieve the greater pleasure of social cohesion and to avoid the greater pain of social conflict. According to Epicureans, our feelings for fellow humans prevent us from becoming savages, unable to enter into trustworthy compacts to promote our safety.
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DOI 10.1163/22134417-00341p11
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