An Epicurean examination of the war on drugs.
The outright dismissal of religion as barbaric, as primitive credulity, or as childish superstition—even if at times it exhibits all of those symptoms—blinds us to important insights into its varied nature and uses. In the absence of direct evidence of the gods, the pious among the ancient Epicureans argued for their existence based on human nature.
Lucian of Samosata (c. 125–180 CE) was a Greek-speaking Assyrian satirist, who falls within the tradition of the laughing philosophers. He was the George Carlin or perhaps the Bill Maher of his day, eloquently mocking both the credulous masses and the charlatans who made a living off of them.
Philodemus of Gadara’s masterpiece On Death, preserved in the ruins of Herculaneum, catalogues in detail the ethical repercussions of the Epicurean doctrine that death is nothing to us and produces a beautiful, life-affirming, world-loving, secular philosophy of life that does not deny, mask, or run away from the reality of death. On Death helps us to develop a fully consistent, naturalist account of death that rejects superstitious and primitive fear.
The parallels between Taoism and Epicurean philosophy which become evident when we study Taoism and read the Tao Te Ching. Sometimes the insights we get from both traditions mirror, complete and complement each other.
The resolution to follow Epicurus is a resolution to protect one’s mind. We live in a dysfunctional consumerist society filled with anxiety and neuroses, where few people analyse their lives, most have a short attention span and are uninterested in disciplining their minds and curbing mindless desires. If philosophy is understood as the Epicureans understand it, then it becomes evident that people desperately need philosophy today.