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The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia Paperback – Mar 1994

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Pub Co Inc (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872202410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872202412
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #285,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Brad Inwood is Professor of Philosophy and Classics, University of Toronto. Lloyd P. Gerson is Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto.


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Format: Library Binding
Let me say at the outset that Epicurus is hard to understand because we have only fragments of his work.
Epicurus is important to people living in the third millenium because he realized, as most of us do, that traditional religion is not very believable.
In his time the Hellenistic and Roman world was about to fall into a morass of Eastern religions, spiritualism, and superstition familiar to third millenium people living amid Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Wicca, and New Age.
Epicurus has two huge virtues that make him worth reading even now.
He is ferociously smart for one. Some of his insights about physical phenomena millenia before the invention of real scientific instruments are astonishing.
The other is that he is unrelentingly honest and rigorous. His premise is that we only know what we can find out from our senses and our reason. This is immensely liberating from all the causistry, tradition, authority, and sentiment of both culture and counter-culture.
To the ultimate rationalization for religion, "Well, it is a comfort for the simple." he responds, "Truth and honesty are better than comfort." He dismissed death as nothing, and proved his point by showing legendary courage in facing his own.
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Format: Paperback
Let me say at the outset that Epicurus is hard to understand because we have only fragments of his work.
Epicurus is important to people living in the third millenium because he realized, as most of us do, that traditional religion is not very believable.
In his time the Hellenistic and Roman world was about to fall into a morass of Eastern religions, spiritualism, and superstition familiar to third millenium people living amid Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Wicca, and New Age.
Epicurus has two huge virtues that make him worth reading even now.
He is ferociously smart for one. Some of his insights about physical phenomena millenia before the invention of real scientific instruments are astonishing.
The other is that he is unrelentingly honest and rigorous. His premise is that we only know what we can find out from our senses and our reason. This is immensely liberating from all the causistry, tradition, authority, and sentiment of both culture and counter-culture.
To the ultimate rationalization for religion, "Well, it is a comfort for the simple." he responds, "Truth and honesty are better than comfort." He dismissed death as nothing, and proved his point by showing legendary courage in facing his own.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ffd39c0) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa00f9588) out of 5 stars An Eye Opener about Living with Eyes Open Feb. 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
Let me say at the outset that Epicurus is hard to understand because we have only fragments of his work.
Epicurus is important to people living in the third millenium because he realized, as most of us do, that traditional religion is not very believable.
In his time the Hellenistic and Roman world was about to fall into a morass of Eastern religions, spiritualism, and superstition familiar to third millenium people living amid Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Wicca, and New Age.
Epicurus has two huge virtues that make him worth reading even now.
He is ferociously smart for one. Some of his insights about physical phenomena millenia before the invention of real scientific instruments are astonishing.
The other is that he is unrelentingly honest and rigorous. His premise is that we only know what we can find out from our senses and our reason. This is immensely liberating from all the causistry, tradition, authority, and sentiment of both culture and counter-culture.
To the ultimate rationalization for religion, "Well, it is a comfort for the simple." he responds, "Truth and honesty are better than comfort." He dismissed death as nothing, and proved his point by showing legendary courage in facing his own.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa00f93fc) out of 5 stars An excellent, well presented translation Aug. 14 2008
By Nick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There are many people who believe that Epicurus is the author of the dominant school of philosophy in 21st Century Western Civilization. That might be true. Even though it's unlikely that the average American or Western European knows much about Epicurus, this ancient sage certainly expresses ideas that are held to a certain degree by many people today.

Certainly, Epicurus' thoughts were heard again in the writings of many thinkers of the Enlightenment Era, and any student of the late 17th and the 18th Centuries will take great interest in Epicurus' words. This little work could have, in fact, offered readers some passages from more modern philosophers to better help readers connect with Epicurus. I don't regard this as a flaw or fault however. The citations and excerpts from more ancient sources that are in this book are considerable for such a short book. This book delivers what it intends to, the works of Epicurus.

This translation is very readable. We don't have a lot of his writings, and this little work conveys what is extant in a language that is approachable. The addition of material excerpted from other sources is also well done, if not presented extensively enough.

An informative but much too enthusiastic introduction, one that turns into something of an endorsement, by D. S. Hutchinson should be read with respectful reservation. Do read carefully the many detractors of Epicureanism. Cicero's Nature of the Gods is a forceful response of great power not conveyed in this little volume's excerpts of that great work. The Stoics and Christians both fiercely rejected Epicurus' philosophy while generally agreeing that he was himself a man of great virtue and character. Plutarch, as the introduction also mentions, was also a harsh critic. So why did Epicurus' ideas receive so much bad press? Please do find out why.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa00f93a8) out of 5 stars Poor translation. Jan. 14 2013
By What's in a name? - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This may be the worst translation you will ever find for Epicurus. The best is the translation by Cyril Bailey, which was printed on its own by Oxford, and also as part of "The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers" edited by W.J. Oates, issued by various publishing houses over the years. Unfortunately, as of the writing of this review, that is out of print. Your best bet is finding an old copy of that, but for a new book, probably your only decent option is Essential Epicurus (Great Books in Philosophy). Normally, I would never recommend a Prometheus edition, as they tend to have plenty of problems. This one is no exception, and so you should read my review there of it for seeing some errata. But even so, it is far better than this edition.

Of course, by the time you read this, I cannot be sure that no one will have reissued Bailey's translation, or that someone else might not have come out with a new and even better translation, but as of the writing of this, the O'Connor translation printed by Prometheus is the best version in print. But if you can find it, go with Bailey.

As for Epicurus himself, his writings are of great importance, and his ideas are surprisingly modern considering when he lived. You should definitely read his works, but get a different edition than this.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fe5f8dc) out of 5 stars Probably gives a full view of Epicurus's thought, which is not necessarily what you might want July 12 2015
By Mb Todd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I came to Epicurus, like probably the vast majority of modern readers outside of academia, because I'm interested in his ideas on how to live a pleasant and happy life. Reading this part of the book was rewarding, however, this part constitutes about 1/3 or less of the book. The remaining 2/3 is mostly his ideas on physics and epistemology. These sections are no doubt essential for people interested in the fullness of Epicurus's thought; for the non-student they make for very uninteresting reading.
Regarding the translation, I don't know Greek but I'm guessing that the translator sticks closely to the original texts because they make for tough and boring reading. I thought the introduction was the more rewarding part of the book.
In short, the editors and translators may very well have done a great job presenting the breadth of Epicurus's thought. Epicurus was much more than a philosopher on the how to live. Unfortunately, most of his ideas, i.e. his ideas of natural science, are unlikely to appeal to or engage many people not already interested in ancient ideas on science.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa00f5dec) out of 5 stars Bizarre volume Dec 10 2015
By HH - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This slim volume opens with a short introduction by D.S. Hutchinson. On the back cover, Michael Frede -- who was one of the finest ancient philosophy scholars of recent times -- describes Hutchinson's essay as "very helpful" for undergraduates and the general reader. Curiously, Frede's verdict is questionable, as Hutchinson's intro is written in a patronizing style attributed to a hypothetical Epicurean preacher explaining the tetrapharmakos (four-part cure); natural philosophy is dismissed in a page, and anything as complicated as epistemology or perception goes unmentioned. This is unfortunate, for the minimum requirements for a basic textbook on Epicureanism surely should include some historical perspective on the Hellenistic age and Epicurus's place relative to SYSTEMS of ancient philosophy, along with an indication of why his theory of ethics was met with negative (and sometimes positive) reactions, and aroused such hostility for more than 2,000 years.

Inwood & Gerson's presentation of Epicurus's texts themselves in this volume is also rather odd. The Letters and the Principal Doctrines are here, but otherwise Diogenes's "Life" is in scattered pieces with important and interesting sections omitted. There's a quick chapter of evidence from Cicero, only two pages from Lucretius (with strange advice to read the whole poem in the Loeb edition), some Plutarch polemic, a mixed collection of short fragments and testimonia, and nothing whatever from or about the fascinating evidence of the Wall by Diogenes of Oenoanda. Thus, it is difficult to see how the "general reader or undergraduate" could cope with this material given when no help is available in the way of summary of topics, commentary, footnotes or chronological framework.

Hutchinson's intro finishes with only the briefest general note on some of the texts to be used and lists a mere eight items for further reading. There is likely to be complete bafflement at the method of citation used, and the context, date and language of the original, especially with regard to the short and varied testimonia at the end. In addition crucial names appear in these texts (Leucippus, Aristippus, Cyrenaics, Carneades, Colotes, e.g.) and terms like "kastastematic pleasure" for which there is no explanation and apparently no preparation for this volume. As for the translation, on the whole it's satisfactory.

All in all, "The Epicurus Reader", as with the other volumes in the Hackett "Reader" series, is cheap and attractively produced, and can act as a useful basic collection if used in conjunction with tutorial or other supplementary material. John Gaskin's Everyman edition called "The Epicurean Philosophers" has a more substantial and useful introduction and gives a wider range of texts, including the whole of Lucretius.


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