In Jennifer Baker & Mark White (eds.), Economics and the Virtues. Oxford University Press. pp. 37-52 (2016)

Tim O'Keefe
Georgia State University
The Epicureans advocate a moderately ascetic lifestyle on instrumental grounds, as the most effective means to securing tranquility. The virtuous person will reduce his desires to what is natural and necessary in order to avoid the trouble and anxiety caused by excessive desire. So much is clear from Epicurus ' general ethics. But the later Epicurean Philodemus fills in far more detail about the attitude a wise Epicurean will take toward wealth in his treatise On Property Management. This paper explores some of Philodemus' distinctive doctrines and argues that Philodemus' position on crafts is an improvement on the Socratic and Aristotelian positions that he is reacting against. Philodemus rejects both constraints on what counts as a genuine craft proposed by Socrates in the Gorgias: that a craft aims at a genuine good, and that it is based on a grasp of the nature of its subject. Philodemus also rejects the attempts of Xenophon and Theophrastus to preserve an important place for the craft of property management, conceived of as aiming at maximizing your wealth, within the Socratic and Aristotelian ethical tradition that puts virtue and virtuous activity at the center of the happy life. According to Philodemus, cultivating and exercising the traditional technê of property management is actually incompatible with being a virtuous person and obtaining happiness.
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