Monday, March 27, 2017

Blog #68 - Which Hellenist philosophy fits you best?

I kept wondering how Hellenistic philosophy applied to today's world as we briefly discussed it on Wednesday.  I didn't have a lot of time to really go in depth with it, so I included summaries, but I still didn't feel like it was enough.  So, I thought, why not dig into this school of thought on the blog?

First, Epicureans - as we explore most philosophy (and most likely religions as well), there seems to be a denial of pleasure or the association that pleasure is at best, a necessary evil. The philosopher, Epicurus, said that the "best sort of one that is free from pain in the body and from disturbance in the mind. That sounds a rather negative credo for a 21st-century devotee of the good life."  There are so many pleasures out there in life that we have been told to stay away from or "wait until you're older."  And, in fact, Epicurus "condemned all forms of over-indulgence, and recommended a simple diet."  But, as you become an adult and temptations increase, where do you draw the line?  Was Epicurus right to withdraw into his garden with friends and live a simple life of pleasure?  How can that work in today's fast-paced, interconnected society?  Do you pull a Henry David Thoreau on everyone and go to live in the woods, simply?  Or is there something in between completing dropping out and total hedonism?

I found an interesting article online about Epicurus and the Pursuit of Happiness: 

Stoicism - When I think of this, I mentioned the British palace guards who tourists like to mess with and try to get them to smile.  But stoicism is much more than that, especially when dealing with such an uncertain, violent world.  This particular quote from Marcus Aurelius, one of the last great Roman emperors, could fit perfectly in our time period: 

“I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman…” - Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism doesn't mean standing idly by while crazy stuff happens.  I think, in many ways, it has to do with the ways in which you react (or don't react) to all the sensationalist news, Chicken-Littles, and Boys-Who-Cried-Wolf out there in the media.  If we believed everything we saw and heard about our world that's dangerous, we'd never get our kids immunized for fear of them getting autism, we'd never buy certain brands of products b/c of an email circulating the globe about the product's danger, and we'd certainly never leave the house.  

This article, "The Modern Wimp's Introduction to Stoicism", is rather crude but funny and tries to dispel the notion that being stoic means not flinching when boys get punched in the groin:  

This article talks about how to be stoic with illustrations:

 - However, do we ignore all of the warnings out there about impending doom?  Too many people ignored the oncoming freight train of death that was attached to the subprime mortgage bubble, and you see where that got us in 2008.  Too many people were busy making too much money to listen to the Pollyannas saying, "hold on a minute!"  And sometimes, sifting through the town crier's messages, isn't there just the call for moderation?  If global warming isn't happening exactly as Al Gore said it would, what's wrong with cutting back on our dependence on foreign oil and driving more fuel-efficient cars?  What's wrong with getting involved more with the 3 Rs - recycle, reuse, and reduce?  I don't know who is correct in the global warming debate, nor do I care, but there can't be anything wrong w/ America reducing its carbon footprint.  

Cynics - the ancient Greeks who followed this school of thought often rejcted materialism and strove to live life simply. Cynics today, however, at least the word cynic, generally dismiss peoples' good intentions as having ulterior motives. There is a strain of persistent disbelief and irrational thought that can lie in the cynical outlook today. With the number of politicians and celebrities that have lied to us while embracing the opposite of what they hold dear, while corporations say one thing and do the other, and our government fails to follow through on its promises, it's no wonder Americans didn't become full blown cynics before the Vietnam War and Watergate in the 1960s and 70s.

 - Has cynicism led to an unhealthy belief in conspiracy theories?  When common sense or persistent, reasoned questioing can poke holes in most of the conspiracies almost immediately, why do they still continue to stay alive?  Should we believe in our politicians and leaders and their promises, or just expect them to let us down again? 

Some comments in this paragraph come from:

Skeptics - this school is probably the most easily applicable to today's world because of our almost religious belief in modern science, which practically demands a skeptical viewpoint of the world.  And in many ways, having a healthy skepticism is helpful for a scientist, philosopher, and in general, being an intelligent human being with all the flood of bogus news out there. 

Where skepticism differs from cynics is that with cynics, you've already lost before the battle has begun.  You will not be able to convince your opponent, rhetorical or otherwise, of any good intentions, etc.  If you win, the cynic will probably claim that the game was rigged, and if they win, you weren't a worthy opponent.

I believe that a healthy skepticism in today's life means many things, but I find it hard to explain it w/o resorting to cliches.  "I'll see it when I believe it."   "Proof is in the pudding." 

Craig Damrauer's print from "Modern Art" which
I think sums up the art cynic in all of us.
However, I always leave room for belief if something has been proven correct.  This can extend to just about anything in my life.  I sometimes fear that skeptics have been cast as those who don't believe in anything, and maybe that is where the confusion lies w/ cynicism.  

Your job: Pick one of the four Hellenist schools of thought and explain in 250 words or more how it applies to your life.  If you're having trouble just sticking to one school of thought, or you take issue with something I've said here, then by all means, jump into the fray!

Due by Friday, March 31 by the beginning of class. 


  1. The school of Skepticism fits me best. My best example of this would be my staunch atheistic beliefs. Growing up, I considered myself to be of the non-denominational Christian faith even though I wasn't the devout little boy who went to church every Sunday or performed Grace at every meal. However, at the age of thirteen, life fell on me like an anvil in a cartoon, and my faith was starting to lose its foundation. At that point, I began to seriously question the existence of God or any higher power whatsoever. To me, it started to seem like I was blindly following a faith that all of my friends seemed to follow, and that that Christian identity didn't really fit on me. I began to question why all of the evils in the world existed and lost faith in god. After my first serious period of depression in seventh grade, I realized that there was god watching over me. I wasn't saved by "god's grace"; I was saved by humans and by human will and human kindness.
    To sum up a long-winded tangent, I was once Christian but then when things went downhill for me, I questioned my spiritual identity and found a completely new self because of it.
    Also, considering the fact that I desire to become a judge one day, I like to think of myself as a more rational being that is more reflective and critical in my cognition. Especially with this current social atmosphere of fact-optional realities, it is not only necessary, but crucial that we slow down and examine every claim that is presented to us. I am much more patient and deliberate in my decision-making skills. That's one of the reasons why I love the agree, disagree, undecided; It's a fun, unique, and interactive way to spark different ideas and to hear multiple perspectives of an argument.

  2. In my opinion the school of skepticism fits me the best. I try not to let a lot of things bother me or hold me back, because I do understand that you should question everything. Most things are not for certain. It is not a fact that I will be alive a day from today or even a month for today. It isn't a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. Even if you get into Harvard because you want to be a lawyer doesn't mean you are going to get the job. That is why I have somewhat learned to just accept what happens because if you don't just accept it life will be miserable. In the notes it talks about how a skeptic would say "Nobody knows, and nobody will ever know." I stand by this because everyday is not promised, so we can't be sure of anything until it actually happens. I may sound like I'm contradicting myself because I would say that sometimes I am also like an Epicurean. I only say this because I am one who ways short term pleasure versus long term pleasure. If I had to choose between buying a hamburger vs saving up for a trip I would most likely save for that trip because I know in the end that trip has a more lasting effect of happiness. Also I weigh the pleasure vs. the negatives. That kind of goes along the guidelines of thinking marginally. I weigh the cost and the benefits and if my benefits outweigh the cost then I'm going to do whatever makes me happy.

  3. I think the view of Epicureans fits me best. I'm not typically one to live by "carpe diem", but I still align most with this view. Everyone always says life is short, so why not try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain? It just makes the most sense to me. This past year was a rough and tumultuous one, but I've overcome the worst parts of it by remembering that it's ok to put myself first and focus on my own happiness before someone else's. This was an important lesson for me to learn, and I think it fits with the Epicureans' belief. Why do something if it makes you unhappy? Why waste your time? I can't always live by this philosophy, however, because I still have responsibilities that I may not necessarily want to do, but I have to in order to be happy in the near or long-term future, like doing homework so I can get into college instead of living at home without a degree or job. I don't agree with this view completely, but I do think it’s the best way to live your life and live it to the fullest. Not to be overly cliché, but everyone in this world has their own life and their own happiness, and I think this view of Hellenism tells us to focus on ourselves first, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. You can’t love someone else without loving yourself first. You will always have yourself, other people will come and go. So, you need to prioritize yourself and your own pleasure; you can’t rely on other people to make you happy.

  4. I’m having a hard time sticking to one of the Hellenistic beliefs. To me, there is no perfect theory to describe how to live life based on one outlook. For me, it is a mix of a few. The main two that I feel apply to me are the Epicurean philosophy and a little bit of skepticism. Stoicism is the one I take most issue with. I don’t feel that we should simply accept the pain that comes in our lives, it is a rational course of action to try and remedy the pain we feel (physical, emotional, or otherwise). To allow things to happen to us is to allow the world to take control of our lives, when we should really be in charge of ourselves. Going off of the Epicurean philosophy, I very much enjoy the motto “carpe diem”, but I do think there’s a balance to it. It isn’t about jumping off of cliffs and going skydiving every day, it is about getting the most out of every day that you possibly can. I also can agree with the idea of weighing short term versus long term pleasure. It seems perfectly rational to weigh your options and decide which one is going to bring you happiness in the long run, rather than what might provide a fleeting moment of joy. Skepticism is also something I can apply to my life, though to a much lesser extent. I do understand the idea that everything happens for a reason, and whatever path we are taken down is the right one for us. However, I disagree that you shouldn’t worry about your paths or prefer one over the other. Personal preference is unavoidable, and we should work to make our lives everything we want them to be, even if it doesn’t always work out in the picture perfect image we thought it might. Living each day to its fullest potential, while accepting that not every day will be picture perfect is how I try to live my life.

  5. Although I can find relatable characteristics in each school of thought, none of the ideologies are accurate enough to actually apply to my life. The belief systems all offer appealing beliefs; however, given the difference between modern day and ancient Greece, the concept of completely applying one of these ideologies to modern life is extremely unrealistic. I most appreciate the ideas of stoicism and I try not to worry too much about things that are out of my control because I know eventually I’ll regain power over the things in my life. A concept presented by stoicism that I love is that pain is a necessary part of life, and I couldn’t agree more. Despite how much I hate and could do without pain, it is a necessity in order to learn and to appreciate the good things in life. Although I like stoicism, the school’s doubt in causation is where I have to draw the line; the possibility that every day could have a majorly different outcome than the last in possible, but there still is some warrant in believing that the past will repeat itself. I also like Epicureanism, despite it being almost opposite from stoicism. Epicureanism dislikes pain and attempts to avoid it and while I understand the necessity of pain, I think it still should be avoided as much as possible. However, I don’t appreciate the school’s belief that extreme emotion should be avoided because I think extreme emotion (in moderation) is another thing that adds to the human experience.

  6. While I could make a case for each of the ways of each applies to my life, stoicism seems to be the most relevant of the three. Whenever I have an issue in my life that needs to be dealt with I get them done. For a more justifiable daily relatable example, homework. Everyday it’s assigned to me and has to get done. Rather than being like most students and going home to vegetate, I get my work done first. The priority in my life is to get my work done before actually enjoying myself. Stoicism also is described along with enduring pain and no emotion. I myself have had a pretty high pain tolerance for as long as I can remember. Even when I had my worst injuries I never shed a tear, which also aligns with the no emotion aspect of stoicism. More on the emotional side of stoicism, I never show some of my emotions. The last time I cried was at the end of the move Logan which was very odd and a rarity for me. I try not to cry at funerals or when hearing the gravest news. The reason for me doing this comes from a concern about if showing emotion weakens me. I would rather internalize my sadness than let it show. Also, I feel that when you are too emotional you garner too much attention and that is something I am not trying to achieve. My dull emotion and pain tolerance align my life to stoicism.

  7. I believe that i most associate with the Epicurean view on life. I feel that a lot of these views apply to me, because they stand by the idea that nothing (including tomorrow) is guaranteed. We need to appreciate things in life, relax and live out a simple day of pleasure, enjoy our simple presence on this Earth with good company around us. I understand that this would be hard to accomplish in our fast paced world today, people always rushing around and worrying about the future, but from the wise words of Ferris Buehler "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it". I think that people are always in too much of a rush and that they will eventually hurry their life away... all they need to do is take Ferris' advice and everything would be much more enjoyable. One of my favorite things in life is relaxing outside, having conversations with people whom I enjoy their company. That being said, as much as Epicurus would like, life doesn't always work that way, and sometimes we need to work rather than relax. I guess, to put this all into perspective, I would never completely affiliate myself with this group, because I believe if all you do is enjoy simple pleasures you can never progress, however I do believe that the simple pleasures are come of the greatest in life, and people need to stop and appreciate it once in a while.

  8. Today I find myself being a combination of a skeptic and a cynic. I believe in a little bit of both so it’s kind of hard for me to draw the line between the two. Like cynics I often find myself doubting the meaning behind people’s actions. If someone gives me a compliment or does something nice for me my first reaction is denial. I think that they only said/did it because they want to make me happy, not because they wanted to or I deserved it. I find myself becoming paranoid about what others think of me and everything then turns into “they didn’t say hi so they hate me”, “they’re only sitting next to me because they have to”, “their looking at my outfit because it’s ugly”. But rationally I know that’s not the case and I know that people do do things out of genuine kindness, so in that respect, am I really a cynic if I know the way I’m thinking is wrong? I feel like this cynical reaction derives from my childhood when close family/friends would tell me very negative things about myself and the world. But I also find myself acting as a skeptic because of the whole god idea. Like Christian, I used to be believe in god (but I was Jewish not Christian). During sixth grade some family problems started and got progressively worse over the years, and in eighth grade when the problems got the best of me, I really started to question if there actually was a god. I kept hearing that god brings happiness and well-being into the world and I couldn’t picture a god existing when all I felt was pain. I started telling myself I’ll believe in a god when things get good again because that’s when god will show me that he/she/it/they really does exist. But as things got worse and worse I became more and more certain that there wasn’t a god because I wasn’t seeing anything good happening. And even now, when things are better, I still find myself saying “I’ll believe in god when I see the proof” but I honestly don’t think I ever will see the proof I’m looking for.


  9. I think Skepticism applies the most to my life. I think we rely heavily on the future. I think I try my best not to look that much into the future to avoid disappointment. I like to think of the future as a surprise instead of being so plan heavy. It can be super frustrating when thinking about what will happen instead of just letting things occur. I think that when we focus to much on things that will occur on their own, it takes away the meaning in the time we are in aka the present. I think we still have to enjoy the present to some extent instead of letting the thought of what will happen next eat us alive. I think I apply skepticism the most to my school life. I don’t like to try to think of the college I will end up at or my major. I think it’s key to try your best to let things happen naturally. I won’t believe I am going to college until I am actually there and inside of my dorm. I also think skeptism applies to my religion and spiritual beliefs. I am a ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ person when it comes to religion. I don’t believe in a God but if science proves me wrong then maybe I will begin to go to church. Life has never been exactly horrible for me but I don’t think it’s because of God. I think that it’s because of the work I do, and the job I have. I think we give this ‘guy’ a little too much credit and we undermine our true abilities. I also think I attach mostly to the school of skeptics because I think we shouldn’t rely on our senses so heavily. I think this began when I was a child and my mother would feed me sweet potatoes. They would smell great but would taste absolutely awful. Now I think we can’t rely on our vision either. Our brain interprets what it wants, not what we actually see. People without vision, hearing, or any of the other core senses are still great people. I think we must be skeptical about our everyday go abouts and the way we interpret things.

  10. I think the philosophy of skepticism applies to more than any other Hellenistic philosophy. Like the skeptics, I also don’t think the senses can be relied upon. There is simply no proof that our senses are accurate beyond our own perceptions. It is completely possible that what we are perceiving is completely different than what the person sitting next to us is or that reality as we know it isn’t real. I also agree with them that the future is inherently uncertain. At the end of the day, there is no way to tell what the future holds. Even the people who plan their futures more than the average citizen’s plans are likely to not work out as planned (this could be for better or for worse, but its inevitability is clear). I also think that at least a small degree of skepticism is crucial to keep those in power in check. It is thanks to skepticism that unjust laws, illogical customs, and cruel practices are brought to light and subsequently widely challenged or even eliminated. I would also like to disagree with the premises that Cicero’s take on skepticism. His main argument against the philosophy is that it causes inaction, yet there are two fundamental flaws with this logic. First: Cicero argues that inaction only occurs at the extremes of skepticism. Even if this is true, it doesn’t make the philosophy any less valuable, extremes of any kind can cause ill effects. For example, drinking too much water can cause low sodium levels in blood and causes a condition called hypernatremia (here’s the source for that) but no one advocates that water is a bad thing because of this! Thus it is an inaccurate to characterize the flaws of skepticism by the flaws of its extremes. Secondly: I think that Cicero has this premise quite backwards: skepticism doesn’t cause inaction, rather more well thought out action. For me, at least the question skepticism prompts isn’t “should we do anything?” rather “what can we do in the present day that translates wisely to an uncertain future.”

  11. Olivia Reeves
    I believe that Skepticism best fits my outlook on the world. I’m not easily convinced of things I believe are not merited, but I’m always willing to listen to carefully constructed and well-supported arguments or proof surrounding principles or ideas I don’t adhere to. This is where I deviate from Cynicism because, if the argument is strong enough and logical enough, I may change my stance on the topic as a result. I need proper evidence and maybe even to see the proof myself, but I can accept being wrong. One example of this was at my work, where I was convinced that one of the registers we use was broken. No matter what I did, I believed the register required maintenance. My coworker informed me that pushing a series of completely unrelated buttons on the side of the screen would do the trick and fix the issue and I didn’t believe her. I had never, in training, been informed of such a quick fix and I wasn’t convinced that it would work this time. I typed in the numbers and nothing happened, and I (with a slightly triumphant tone) informed her that she was wrong. She nevertheless punched in the code and the register sprang to life. She explained that I hadn’t held down the ‘Enter’ key for long enough and the register hadn’t picked up on my input. I apologized profusely and acknowledged my mistake. I was wholly skeptical of her idea originally, and then confirmed my beliefs through my actions. I was fairly set against the idea, but her direct evidence changed my mind and I was fully able to concede my error, rather than attribute it to trickery. This kind of response is fairly common for me, as I tend to need proof to be convinced of something beyond what I believe, but once proven wrong I’m usually very willing to admit my mistakes, a concept that is outlined in the ideas of Skepticism too.

  12. I do not believe that any of the four schools of thought are the ultimate ideology that someone can apply to make life perfect. These beliefs were created so long ago, that it’s difficult to find a strong enough connection between the four schools of thought and the way I live my life. However, I do agree with some characteristics of cynicism, the outlook that society in general was ruled by thoughts of personal gain, political corruption and meaningless rituals. Although I do not think that all of society is driven by greed and power, I do believe that although we should be able to expect good intentions from people, that politicians, celebrities, and even people close to us show us the reality that not everyone can be trusted. What we don’t see behind the smile of celebrities or the persuasive speeches of politicians are often the ulterior motives that come with the desire for personal gains. Another Hellenistic belief that I can basically relate to is stoicism. I do not believe that stoicism equates to being emotionless and accepting the issues and pain that confronts us, but to learn and understand how to deal with it. Contrary to the belief that stoicism is standing by allowing the world to leave its mark on us, I think that stoicism means to accept the illusion that we do not have control over life, but only our reactions to what it throws at us. One of the things that make life so valuable is the ability we have to experience emotion. Without emotion, I wouldn’t have a reason to sing, or write, and for many people to wake up. Many of life’s most valuable lessons start with allowing yourself to be vulnerable, although it takes courage, and to be able to fulfill life through these moments that we had no control over. Stoicism advocates for not expending any unnecessary emotional energy on the things that we cannot change, but rather to accept that it happened, understanding it and move on, and learning how to develop self-control.

  13. The closest school of thought that I fall into within hellenism is Epicureanism. Part of my overall philosophy of the different levels of relevance is the idea that this is the fine stage. We simply only exist on the humankind level, nothing past that. With this in mind I agree in the idea of Carpe Diem and enjoying the finer and more important things in life. By simply having a healthy mix of close friends that bring you joy and being able not cheat yourself in quality, you will fulfill your personal joy quota that you require. I think of the Tom Jones son"Help Yourself" when thinking about Epicureanism. With lines like "the very best in life is free", and "The greatest wealth that excise in the world can never buy what I can give". People give the greatest value, and by devoting life to learning and enjoying relationships, and feasting the mind and body on the finer things in life, people can hit that joy quota.This can not be linked with the idea of stoicism. Connecting Carpe Diem to the idea of fate, there is a paradox that is created. If someone were to seize the day, they create a fate that locks them into a endless loop of numbing joy, they would need to face the negativity in life to balance out the stoic culture that they have created for themselves. They would be unbalanced unless they were to recognize the complexity of the human mind. This is why I don’t understand why Epicureanism and Stoicism falls under the same grouping of Hellenism.

  14. Of the 4 Hellenist schools of thought, I'd say I have my Epicurean, Cynic, and Stoic. I do believe that it is important to live for today, and I will take certain actions so that my overall pain is minimized and my happiness is maximized. I like to over think a lot of my decisions, and often times will seek advise from friends or my mom, just so I don't make a bad decision and end up regretting it. This relates to the Epicurean school of thought, since Cynics are typically free and in the moment. I Used to be a very anxious child, all through out elementary and middle school. Id get butterflies before I got on the bus every morning, I had minimal friends, and when ever we went on school field trips my uncertainty would give me stomach aches that without fail led to me having to call my mom to get me. It was this anxiety that set me up for thinking things over before I do them later in my life. I like to think about what I do before I do it, and then I'm able to free and allow myself to enjoy the moment. Once I make a decision about something, I become more of a Cynic, allowing myself to enjoy whatever is happening with the people around me, but if something doesn't go right, I feel like I take a more Stoic approach. For example, at an orchestra concert, I was playing with other soloists in our electronic group. We'd played the song perfectly 100 times before, but when the moment came to perform for out audience, we messed up for about 8 measures (a significant amount). Instead of freaking out during what seemed like half the song, I just accepted the mistake had happened and tried getting back on the down beat. I had to accept the fate of the moment and make the best of it.

  15. I believe the epicurean sector of hellenism best aligns with my own life. I often find myself enjoying the more simple pleasures of life such as sitting on my patio in the summer and watching the wildlife flourish. I find pure joy when I take my dogs for a walk around the neighborhood rather than going on a high end vacation in the tropics. My long term goal for my life is to be genuinely happy and investing in my peace of mind is essential. I agree with Epicurus and his idea that enjoying the more modest pleasures instead of something very extravagant is much better. For example if I were to go to a big party every time I wanted to have fun I would be slightly disappointed when an option that was not equally as exciting was not available. It is almost like setting yourself up for disappointment because there will not always be something to top that experience which in turn makes you fall into a rut of not enjoying your “fun time” anymore. On the other hand, life’s simple pleasures such as enjoying a bonfire with some friends will never grow old. Although I do believe that simplifying your life to basic pleasures necessary to eliminate pain is key, I think that Epicurus took it too far when he said that one should abstain from physical pleasures such as sex. In my opinion, engaging in relationship is a simple pleasure for humans. It is as natural as wanting to have a pleasing afternoon of relaxing. Humans need companionship of some sort to remain happy. If those feelings are repressed then the individual will lead their life with negative pinned up emotions because they are not allowed to express a natural desire. Life is all about balancing the good and the bad. Even too much of a good and simple thing becomes bad and harmful to oneself after a while.

  16. In my opinion, I do not believe I abide by a single Hellenist viewpoint. I would say that I am a mixture between an epicurean and a skeptic at best. Although, the only part of the epicurean viewpoint I agree to is that not all pleasures are good pleasures. Something that I often think about is the fact that we are our purest forms when we are young. AS children, our parents tell us not to curse or lie or do certain things. But as we get older, they suddenly do not crack down on us for slipping a curse word here or lying to someone there. Maybe it is because they realize we are not perfect, but they don't seem to be encouraging us to strive towards perfection anymore.  So now the question is why do these actions suddenly become acceptable? Where is the line drawn? It does not make sense to me that cursing is not accepted when we are young, but becomes a social norm when we are older, without much criticism on it either. It is very hard to discern good pleasure from bad. Take the cursing for example. Curse words are simply words at the end of the day, so why were those words chosen as the ones that cannot be said? Curse words aren’t always even used to put someone else down, but can often be used as emphasis for an emotion we’re feeling. There is no bad intention in telling someone they have “sick a** shoes on.” The line between what is acceptable and not acceptable is very unclear. The part of the skeptic viewpoint that I agree with is that we should be open to new ideas and not close minded. I believe that having the viewpoint of a cynic is not a very healthy mindset to stick to. I feel like it will not be very effective if you want to further your knowledge.

  17. Epicurean is probably the closest to the way I try to live my life. I believe that because life is short, often even shorter than we all expect our lives to be, we should make the most of every day. Many people focus on the pleasure seeking part of this philosophy, and it now is often thought of as gluttonous. This interpretation is unfair because Epicureans didn't just seek short term pleasure. Instead, they weighed the pleasure of actions against their side effects. I try to do this in my own life. Although staying up late maybe fun that night, the next morning I would be tired and grumpy. Therefore I would go to bed on time instead of finishing the current season of what ever show I'm watching.

    The phrase "Carpe Diem" also relates to my life. Everyday I see so many of my peers making themselves unhappy now so that they might be happy way in the future. Some high-achieving honors students even choose to not sleep or miss out on fun activities in favor of studying. The idea is that high school or junior year may not be fun but it'll all be worth it on the future when they get into college. I don't agree with that mind-set because it creates a vicious cycle of always preparing for the future (which in itself isn't bad) and not living in the present. Especially since my brother recently passed away, I try to think about how I want to spend each day to live my life to the fullest. I certainly have goals that I work toward, but I refuse to sacrifice the majority of my happiness, especially the little pleasures in life, at any given time on the chance that it'll pay off later.

    I prefer this mind set because to me it seems the most proactive of the Hellenistic philosophies. Stoicism believes you should accept your fate, I say use today to heighten the chances of your fare being enjoyable. Cynics don't believe in the importance of external events and Skeptics didn't think you should plan for the future because its so uncertain. In contrast, I live for today because there's a chance tomorrow won't happen, but it probably will so I still plan on getting a donut tomorrow morning.

  18. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the Epicurean view. For me, it is perfect and exactly how I want to live my life. Above all else, it is difficult to find a meaning of life. With Epicureanism, I don’t need one. With this philosophy of life, there is no end goal: the journey is pure enjoyment. I don’t need to stress over whether my life has meaning, I can just slow down and enjoy life. Nevertheless, there are some potential flaws with this thought process. The most frequently voiced critique is that I will throw away my future and waste my potential, as well as damaging by body. The go-to example is over-indulging on sweets, say, for example ice cream. While Epicureanism may seem like it encourages someone to eat and eat and eat, that is not true. I will not overindulge on food, because it would impact my body and my weight, which would not bring me pleasure in the long run. On the contrary, if I eat healthy and exercise, then I will feel more confident and have more energy and it will make my day-to-day life easier. Another critique of Epicureanism is that it will promote selfish behaviors and narcissism, but those critiques are largely unfounded. I could steal, cheat, or betray the trust of my friends, and I could receive some short-term pleasure from that action as a result, but I would soon feel guilty and would lose that pleasure. I also would lose all my friends, and as a result be even less happy. I will do my homework, even though the actual work does not bring me pleasure. The result of the work, the knowledge and the grade, does bring me pleasure. I do things that aren’t inherently pleasurable, but they bring me pleasure in the long run. I strive to be happy and enjoy myself. If I don’t fulfil my responsibilities, I won’t enjoy myself. If I don’t do all my work, I will be stressed and therefore unhappy. My sense of happiness is a compass that I can live my life by.

    Chance Stephenson

  19. Epicurean is very similar to the way that I go about living my life especially when it comes to the practice of Christianity you can find that the most pleasurable things are or lead to displeasing your higher power in this case being God. Other than religion I live based off of Epicurus's teachings mainly because of what I have witnessed based on people who surround me and their "yolo" mindset. This mindset proves Epicurus teachings in the article "Pursuit of Happiness" because 9 times out of 10 the people who try to achieve a pleasurable lifestyle end up very selfish and bitter which only makes life even worse for you because majority of the time it leads to loneliness. On the other hand you end up being very sad. Sadness to me becomes the result of always trying to go about this way of life that always has to provide an adrenaline rush for your body because life is full of non-pleasurable moment (maybe even more non-pleasurable than pleasurable). So in this non appealing way of life to me I choose to be more simplistic in life to benefit from the things around me, better learn myself, and keep away from the mistakes/faults that pleasure brings along with it. Life is truly what you make of it which can be interpreted differently for different people. I can't say that at one point in life i was the total opposite but even personally I start to realize that I could not accept that person I was. Even as the article stated "some things you are taught to abstain from certain things through teachings. Through parents and elders I realized the guilt that came with doing things that went against the the things people who I have to see almost everyday had to tell me. So I believe in your practice to pleasure yourself you indeed end up doing the opposite because pleasure lasts for a second but the outcome is much greater. Weather it be sex, eating, or drugs. You cannot control the outcome, such as disease, gaining weight, or sudden addiction.

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  21. Blog #68--Hellenism

    The Hellenistic school of thought I chose was connects with me because I believe in simple joys and pleasures. In my opinion, a lot of problems that we create within our personal lives or within the world as a whole is due to greed. It seems as though many people are always concerned about what's next instead of being okay with where they are. Epicurus “condemned all forms of over-indulgence” which, to me, seems smart in order to live a happy, simple life. When one “over-indulges” on food, for example, they either spend more money than they wanted to in the beginning and/or gain more pounds than they were expecting. Thus, following their meal, the person is now left with a fewer amount of money as well as unwanted weight. It's factors like these that make people unhappy with their life: not enough money, so they blame their job or not liking their body due to the extra pounds they have. Maybe my examples aren't the best, but I feel as though when someone tries to over extend their “simple” boundaries, that's when problems begin to arise. In my life, I feel as though I’m happiest when I don't force anything. What I mean is when I simplify things to a certain degree, life becomes a breeze. For example, think of math; when I’m given a complicated equation with fractions and what not, it's easier to simplify the equation to make it easier to solve. But for life experiences, In the world today, I could see why people would go against Epicureans simply because the world is constantly growing and expanding its new properties. So, this is where I feel as though there could be an exception simply because to Epicurus, a flip phone would be perfectly fine for him to operate in his life. However, with the way technology grows, that flip phone will be outdated within no time. Now I’m not saying that someone has to buy the newest version of everything, but I feel as though a little indulgence in staying with the progression of the century doesn't hurt as long as one isn't always looking for the newest, hottest product out. In a nutshell, I agree with Epicurus in the sense that in order to have a simple life (which is a happy life to most), it’s key to not let yourself over-indulge in unneeded pleasures, but I still believe that a little indulge doesn't hurt anyone nor anything.


  22. Freddy
    I find it very hard to decide between these different schools of thought, each one of them is capable to represent some aspects of my life. However, I like philosophies such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Skepticism. I don’t relate enough to Cynicism: although honesty and virtuosity are of course cherished, I feel like the complete refusal of material comforts and social practices is almost “extreme”. I really like the epicurean “ataraxia”, and how we are able to reach that state of mind even within a society rather than in solitude and in denial of a community. On the other hand, being stoic has helped me getting through both tough times and everyday life. I often despise people who don’t seem to be able to control their emotions and, with that, they interrupt or trouble others’ quotidianity. I value discipline and self-control, even though I’m perfectly aware that sometimes life is stronger than us and we need to let go for a while. I am also a full-time thinker, I love using logical connections, biases, and empathy to understand every speck of the world around me. I also embrace the stoic disbelief in permanence: everything is bound to change, and being able to embrace that change, appreciate it, and live in the moment without reminiscing the past, is fundamental to start living a more worry-free life. Finally, I learned to be skeptical after middle school, where many know-it-alls just can’t help but taking advantage of smaller and nonconformist people. I think life is hard enough on a daily basis not to utilize skepticism.

  23. Francesca ButtazzoniApril 26, 2017 at 2:22 PM

    I think that I would describe myself as a cynic. I try not to, because its a bit exhausting always looking for ulterior motives in other people’s actions, but my mind just wanders there. I feel that I am always questioning things and I have the hardest time believing in things I cant see or prove. I will constantly get into fights with my brothers about how I don't feel respected when they go into my room without asking, and after telling them so many times, I feel like if they loved me they would listen. Therefore they don't love me. But they always respond saying they do love me, and I have to believe their words, but because people lie and its easy to lie, I try to look for reassurance in their actions, and their actions tell me things they don't say. Now of course at the end of the day, I know they respect me, but in that moment of hurt, it doesn't feel like it and my mind tells me that their actions reflect how they feel about me. I think that cynicism has led to conspiracy theories and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I believe thats its healthy to question things, to a certain extent, and to not just believe everything you are told. Conspiracy theories make us go out and explore new possibilities, and it opens our mind to unconventional ways of thinking. Like you mentioned with Watergate, no ones perfect we all lie, even our government. So its important to use that knowledge to be open to all things, even when they seem far-fetched. Its our duty to question things and learn from what we can lean and make sense of.

    -Francesca B

  24. The two hellenistic beliefs that I think strictly apply to me are the views of the epicureans and the cynics. Starting with the view of the Cynics, I find that only true happiness can really be achieved when you have a minimal amount of belongings and are simply content with what you have. As much as people have the normal tendency to desire things, in the end the objects you posses or the amount of money that you have is not what is going to make you happy. These things might bring you short terms happiness and comfort, but as long as you are living with the necessities, material things are truly not needed. I am obviously guilty of thinking I need things that are clearly unnecessary, and I usually realize after, if I end up possessing whatever the thing may be, that this is not how true happiness can ever be brought to an individual. As much as I strongly agree with the thoughts of the Cynics, I have to equally agree with the Epicureans as well. I think one of the biggest themes of today’s society is the idea that people just love living the life that clearly isn’t theirs, and I’m guilty of this as well. Society has reduced itself to there being only one way to really live and think, and it seems that as most people my age are approaching adulthood, I feel that no one really lives their own life to the fullest. Again, I am so guilty of this as well, even though I love view of the Epicureans, that you should just live life to the fullest and enjoy what you make of it and what comes your way.

  25. Kyle Beauregard

    None of these really spoke to me at first. Most were too cynical for my to really get on board with, and at first, the Epicurean view felt very materialistic in a bad way. But upon further reading, I discovered that the Epicureans very much suit my own outlook. Yes, they find happiness in the finer things and the world around them, but they go farther than that. They value weighing smaller happy moments for big ones, put worth to thinking, but not overthinking.

    Obviously, this is my own interpretation, but I like to think of the Epicurean thought process as one that knows the true beauty of loving little things. Enjoying the feeling of digging one’s bare feet into the dark, soft soil beneath them, or watching sparks rocket up from a flame, only to watch them drift softly back down to earth. Watching a kid’s cartoon that has more meaning to it then meets the eye, with loving and changing characters, or reading a book that moves one so deeply that the simple black text is blurred out by tears. Finishing a meaningless little scribble on the corner of your page, drifting back into sleep after waking up a smidge too early, playing with that one corkscrew of hair that won’t straighten out, being hugged by someone that isn’t usually one for physical affections. Just being able to love living on the planet Earth, surrounded by mundane little things, appreciating that which one can experience. Simply existing and taking joy in such a tiny existence amongst such noble ideas of perfection.

    Sometimes its easier to sit back and allow the philosophers to their philosophy, watching them try to sort out our insignificant, fragile, impossibly wondrous purpose.


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