Is your life driven by a fate governed by a wise and just providence? Or are you and everything else simply the chance movement of atoms? In a defense of the Stoic worldview, Christopher Fisher says your psychological well-being may depend on how you answer these questions. “The chasm between the providentially ordered cosmos of the Stoics and the random atomic universe of the Epicureans was deep and wide, and it could not be bridged. Thus, as Marcus asserts, one must make a choice between them—either providence or atoms. … [W]e can choose to follow the cart of fate willingly, with gratitude for the life we have been given. We can take control of what is ‘up to us’ and leave the rest to providence. Or, we can continue to get dragged through life yelping all the way. The choice is ours and the choice is critically important to our psychological well-being.”
How to live … Stoicism and Epicureanism
How should we live? Cheerfully resign ourselves to what happens or pursue true pleasure? From the School of Life a short film explaining Stoicism and another explaining Epicureanism.
Happy … the Epicurus mix
Alain de Botton says that while previous philosophers wanted to know how to be good, Epicurus wanted to know how to be happy. “Even today, Epicurus remains an indispensable guide to life in advanced consumer capitalist societies because advertising – on which this system is based – functions on cleverly muddling people up about what they think they need to be happy. An extraordinary number of adverts focus on the three very things that Epicurus identified as false lures of happiness: romantic love, professional status and luxury.”
What does it mean to be happy?
Happiness and its discontents. Is happiness being satisfied with your life? Is it pleasure and the absence of pain? According to Daniel Haybron, it’s an emotional state. Happiness fulfills our needs as persons. “What sorts of needs are we talking about? Among the most important sources of happiness are: a sense of security; a good outlook; autonomy or control over our lives; good relationships; and skilled and meaningful activity. If you are unhappy, there’s a good chance that it’s for want of something on this list.”