Epicurean Ethics: Katastematic Hedonism

Author: Preuss, Peter
The fundamental problem of Epicurean philosophy is understood as the problem of being human in a mechanical universe. A new interpretation of Epicurean ethics is developed against the background of a critical discussion of earlier interpretations. Although the whole range of the tetrapharmakos is covered in the book, as well as the Epicurean social philosophy of justice and friendship, the argument focusses on Epicurus' understanding of the nature of pleasure and pain and on the distinction between kinetic and katastematic pleasure.


"This is a valuable book, a very thorough and well-informed study of a school of moral philosophy that is easy to neglect because so little early material has survived, and easy to despise because it is unabashedly hedonistic. . . . the book is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in Epicurus. Upper-division undergraduate; graduate; faculty." - Choice

"This book is not only immensely instructive, but a real pleasure to read. It is well-constructed, lucidly expounded, closely argued, and meticulously documented. . . . Its style, though clear and unpretentious, is often really distinguished, and can rise to almost poetic intensity when this is appropriate. . ." - Hugo Meynell

"Dr. Preuss's careful scholarship and philosophic ability to ask the right questions about Epicurus's formulations, quietly and freshly implements the lesson that, without good history, good philosophizing is hardly possible. Preuss has understood Epicurus better than Cicero or Plutarch were able to. His understanding, for example, of Epicurus's sense of "ataraxia" and "aponía" as intellectual conditions of the Epicurean adept or person, issues in a most satisfactory account of these as the great katastematic goods. . . . .This is book is also artfully organized: the clear writing aims to be both enlightening and an enduring pleasure. Dr. Preuss has produced something that is itself katastematic, a worthwhile analytic reflection upon Epicurus's conception of the good as an intelligent practice." -- V. Tejera