living in agreement with nature
- I was surprised to find out that both the Stoics and the Epicureans had
following nature as goal. To Epicurus nature is on the sensation/emotion
side: mainly seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The Stoics would totally
disapprove of this. Diogenes Laertius wrote about the Stoics:
"Therefore Zeno in his book *On the nature of man* was the first to say that
living in agreement with nature is the end, which is living in accordance
with virtue... Living in agreement with nature comes to be the end, which is
in accordance with the nature of oneself and that of the whole, engaging in
no activity wont to be forbidden by the universal law, which is the right
reason pervading everything and identical to Zeus, who is this director of
the administration of existing things. (Long & Sedley 63C)"
The Epicureans would never call on Zeus of course since to them the Gods
were indifferent to human matters. Is seems to me that the Stoics and
Epicureans were taking completely opposite views. Stoic nature-following is
mental, rational, linguistic even (logos). The Epicureans' is based on
sensation/emotion, non-verbal, grounded in the body.
PS. I'm reading an excellent French book: Epicure et son école by Geneviève
- I also found this Epicurean/Stoic comparison on Britannica (by Carlo
Diano) - Britannica has great philosophical articles; by the way I saw that
the Britannica site will stop being free next month, so it's worth getting
the CD-rom or DVD version that are fairly inexpensive:
"In principle, Epicurus' ethic of pleasure is the exact opposite of the
Stoic's ethic of duty. The consequences, however, are the same: in the end,
the Epicurean is forced to live with the same temperance and justice as the
Stoic. Of utmost importance, however, is one point of divergence: the walls
of the Stoic's city are those of the world, and its law is that of reason;
the limits of the Epicurean's city are those of a garden, and the law is
that of friendship. Though this garden can also reach the boundaries of
earth, its centre is always a man."
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.