In search of the good life: Epicurus and his philosophy

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The popular view of an Epicurean is that of somebody who focuses on pleasure as our guiding principle, indulging in the finer things of life to achieve happiness. And yet what the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus understood by pleasure was far more nuanced. In fact, Epicurus and his followers advocated a simple lifestyle, withdrawn from society, where we are content with little. What is perhaps less known is how Epicurean writings on physics foreshadowed some of the most significant developments in early modern science – including Darwin’s theory of evolution and even Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Joining Bridget Kendall is Catherine Wilson, visiting Professor at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York, and the author of various works on Epicureanism, including How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well; Dr Sonya Wurster, Honorary Fellow at La Trobe University in Australia who’s working on a book about the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus; and philosopher and historian David Sedley, Emeritus Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and the author of numerous publications on Greek and Roman thought. (Image: Bust of Epicurus. Photo: DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images)

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