The epicureanism is a system of philosophy taught by Epicurus of Samos, a Greek philosopher who lived from 341 till 270 B.C.
Epicurus believed that the human being’s happiness consists of living continually looking for the pleasure. For him, pleasure, enjoyment, joy of life is the Supreme good that assures the happiness and pain, suffering is the Supreme evil which prevents the human beings from being happy.
This pleasure should not be limited to the body – sensitive pleasure – but it should be also intellectual (spiritual, it is said today) covering in this way, everything about the human beings, including what they think and what they feel. He called this the ataraxia as an expression of the serenity of life. This is his doctrine summarized in few lines.
Epicurus was not misguided when he said that pleasure is good and that pain is evil to the human beings. This is an assertion which anyone at any time in history that has touched it to live, wouldn’t hesitate to sign. What happens is that human life is very complex and no one can avoid the pain and suffering: they appear at any time, especially when someone reaches the old age or the end of the life.
Today we can say that Epicurus has got many disciples who follow his doctrine without knowing it; they are those I would call neoepicureans, or new epicureans. They are those who go after the pleasure in their lives and they reject pain with all kinds of arguments, and make that attitude one of the fundamental choices in their lives. They are those who justify the death of the innocent baby in the womb of his mother with various pretexts – rape, malformation or danger to the mother’s mental or physical health – and even they speak of a mother’s right to kill his son; they are those who are shocked when someone calls this eventual elimination of a human being’s life, murder; those who try to justify euthanasia, which is the death of a human being in terminal situation rather than help and console him with all the soul, etc. Because, let us not deceive ourselves, the pain is actually an evil, sometimes a bad big and even barely bearable one and pleasure is a good that gratifies and ennobles human life, when it is practised in moderation, of course.
Then, where is the mistake of the neoepicureanism? Well, it is in the fact that the human being can never avoid pain, all pain and own and alien suffering by more efforts that he can make, which it would be ideal, and he must conform to accept it with more or less resignation, or he doesn’t sometimes conform in any way and he refuses it absolutely.
Furthermore, if the human being let himself take for that premise of avoiding pain at any price because it is an evil and to seek pleasure above all because it is a good, he is unavoidably away from God, he rejects the faith in Jesus Christ and his terribly bloody redemption on the cross and he loses the ability to make sense to this pain or suffering more or less intense, as a way of serenity and salvation, joining it with the Christ’s sacrifice.
This explains that, nowadays, many people attempt to justify the murder involving abortion, the terrible genocide of our time, the new slavery of some human beings who are deprived of all rights, including the Supreme right to come to this world. I call them the neoepicureans, even though they don’t know that they are or they are aware of this.