Reviewed by Mary C. Blowers for Readers' Favorite
In Epicurus And The Pleasant Life, Haris Dimitriadis has written a staggeringly comprehensive book about Epicurus. One of the Greek philosophers, Epicurus believed in pleasure being the meaning of life. However, it is not vain, carnal pleasure, but finding contentment and happiness where you are. In addition, pain and pleasure were, as he thought, at opposite ends of the spectrum of human experience. If there was any pain, you could implement pleasure in the same part of your life and therefore gain happiness. I found the chapter about nutrition and diet especially interesting. The Epicurean is not to eat rich delicacies at the expense of their health. Simple food works best with the body. Depression and illness have increased in more recent decades and the author states that this is because indulgent devouring of whatever is convenient or desired has edged out true nutrition, causing deficiencies despite eating a high number of calories.
Another important point of Epicureanism is that material wealth is not the way to pleasure and happiness. While this may seem contradictory, real happiness comes from pleasant interactions with other people. Showing each other up with new cars and houses, clothes and jewelry, will only foster envy, jealousy, and resentment. The Epicurean principle that rolls everything into a neat package is the principal of having a positive attitude. You become happy because you intended to become happy. You take pleasure in little things such as green lights on the way to work, or bigger things such as getting the job you dreamed of and worked for all your life. Negativity is said to set into motion negative consequences and miserable feelings about those consequences. Negativity and misery can indeed cause emotional and physical illnesses and even exhaustion. After the different types of pleasures, including exercise, sex, home, and safety, a major part of the book is devoted to worries and fears. Haris Dimitriadis obviously researched this book extensively so as to be able to go into so much detail about not only facts and history, but also his opinions and feelings about it. A masterpiece. Epicurus And The Pleasant Life is a long book that will take a long time to read, but it is well worth it.