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Epicurus’ Varietas and ἡ κινητικὴ ἡδονή

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image of Mnemosyne

According to Epicurus’ view which locates the summit of pleasure in the absence of all pain, once pain has been removed pleasure cannot be increased, but it can be embellished. This article has two main aims. Firstly I shall deal with this embellishment, namely the pleasure beyond the absence of pain (the varietas), and discuss its exact place within the Epicurean theory of pleasures; I argue that varietas pertains only to pleasures concerning the body. Secondly, and on the basis of my findings concerning the Epicurean varietas, I shall offer a redefinition of the concept of kinetic pleasures and argue that the pair natural-unnatural is the axis by which the kinetic pleasures are to be divided into pleasures concerning the body and pleasures concerning the soul respectively. I shall end by referring to a well disputed question concerning the Epicurean way of living, namely the question: “was Epicurus an ascetic?”.

Affiliations: 1: Bar-Ilan University


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