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Series: Ancient Philosophies
Author(s): Tim O'Keefe  
ISBN: 1844651703
ISBN-13: 9781844651702
Publication Date: 31/10/2009
Pages: 224 (216 x 138mm)
Format: Paperback
Published Price: £16.99
Discount Price: £13.59
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Epicureanism was one of the major philosophical systems of the Hellenistic world. It provided a systematic account of the nature of the world and our place in it, how we can come to know the world, and how we can attain happiness. Founded by Epicurus of Samos (c.341–270 BCE) the Epicurean school of philosophy flourished for hundreds of years after Epicurus’ death, and its rediscovery helped shape the scientific revolution.

This clear and engaging introduction provides lucid exposition of the central tenets of Epicurus’ philosophy. Part 1 of the book examines the fundamentals of Epicurus’ metaphysics, including atoms, cosmology, mechanistic biology, the nature and functioning of the mind, and death. Part 2 explores Epicurus’ epistemology, including his arguments against scepticism and his ideas on sensations, preconceptions and feelings. The third and final part deals with Epicurus’ ethics, exploring his arguments for hedonism, his distinctive conceptions of types of pleasure and desire, his belief in virtue, and his notions of justice and friendship.

Tim O’Keefe explores the arguments supporting Epicurus’ positions, indicating their strengths and weaknesses, while showing how they connect to other parts of his philosophy and how Epicureanism hangs together as a whole. Particular stress is placed on those features that have enduring philosophical interest and which parallel debates in contemporary philosophy. O’Keefe shows Epicurus to be a philosopher of the highest order and that even after two millennia grappling with his ideas continues to reward study.


"This is a splendid book. As an introduction to all aspects of ancient Epicureanism, addressed to a general readership with an interest in the history of philosophy, I cannot imagine anything better. I shall recommend it to students and colleagues as the first place to go for an engaging, clear, thoughtful, and informed overview of the subject. . . a small masterpiece." – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This will be a very useful textbook for those teaching Epicureanism. O'Keefe offers lucid and readable accounts of Epicurean physics, epistemology, and ethics. As well as providing a reliable overview of the main Epicurean ideas, he also aims to bring out their continuing philosophical interest. Although O'Keefe offers an independent analysis of Epicurean theory, he refers freely to the main primary sources and comments in the introduction on the texts that students can usefully read in conjunction with this book. While explicit scholarly controversy is avoided, the treatment is informed by debate in recent scholarship, and the notes refer to a number of important discussions." – Phronesis

"The tone is lively and engaging and just right for an undergraduate audience. The use of primary sources is light but accurate and the emphasis is squarely and rightly on the consideration of Epicureanism as a focus for philosophical argument." – James Warren, University of Cambridge

Tim O'Keefe is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgia State University, USA.


1. Introduction: The life of Epicurus and the history of Epicureanism
Part I  Metaphysics and Physics
2. Atoms and Void
3. Atomic Motion
4. Sensible Qualities
5. Cosmology
6. Biology and Language
7. The Mind
8. Freedom and Determinism
Part II  Epistemology
9. Scepticism
10. The Canon
Part III  Ethics
11. Pleasure, the Highest Good
12. Varieties of Pleasure, Varieties of Desire
13. The Virtues and Philosophy
14. Justice
15. Friendship
16. The Gods
17. Death
Further Reading

Also available in Hardback (184465169x), priced 50.00

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