Epicurus of Samos was a major philosopher during the Hellenistic period, who impacted many thinkers like Karl Marx, Kant and Nietzsche. He founded The Garden, a place where his teachings were put into practice. Contrary to the then prevailing Greek culture, his radical equality enabled women and slaves to join his school.The misunderstanding of his philosophy, which persists till today, is that it is rampantly hedonistic and self-indulgently pleasure-seeking. In reality, his philosophy uses pleasure as the highest good, which is valued for its own sake and not for the sake of anything else. He pointed out that one’s actions need to be directed towards attaining that pleasure, ataraxia, that is, deep calm and tranquility. Ataraxia implies abstaining from unnecessary desires and remaining content with simple things and pursuing virtuous habits.Epicurus advocates reducing desires to the minimum, to just the basic and unavoidable, which can be easily satisfied, as against wealth or power that seems to have no limit and gives a false promise of security. All pleasures are good but the consequences are to be borne in mind.By Homayun Taba
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