“Letter to Menoeceus,” in The Essential Epicurus (Buffalo: Prometheus, 1993), sec. 125.
Epicurean Equanimity Towards Death
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2007
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Volume 69, Issue 1, pages 92–114, July 2004
How to Cite
DRAPER, K. (2004), Epicurean Equanimity Towards Death. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 69: 92–114. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2004.tb00385.x
- Issue published online: 29 MAY 2007
- Article first published online: 29 MAY 2007
- Cited By
This paper assesses two reformulations of Epicurus' argument that “death … is nothing to us, since while we exist, death is not present; and whenever death is present, we do not exist.” The first resembles many contemporary reformulations in that it attempts to reach the conclusion that death is not to the disadvantage of its subject. I argue that this rather anachronistic sort of reformulation cannot succeed. The second reformulation stays closer to the spirit of Epicurus' actual position on death by attempting to reach the conclusion that it is inappropriate to fear or dread or have any other negative affective response towards death. I raise a plausible objection to this argument, suggesting that dissatisfaction is sometimes an appropriate response to the approach of death. I then go on to consider the possibility that Epicurus was partly right in that it may always be inappropriate to dread death.
Death is nothing to us. For while we are still alive, death is not present; and when death is present, we are not.