January 2018

Pyrrhus of Epirus (died 272 B.C.), was a king with a lust for conquest. He set out from his little state of Epirus, Greece, to conquer the world. As was the style at the time he took not only warriors with him but cultivated men to discourse with. One of these men was Cyneas, a wise man who occasion to speak of Epicurus and his philosophy, which places chief happiness of man in pleasure and declining public affairs as a disturbance of a happy life.

Plutarch in his Life of Pyrrhus* records one of the conversations between Pyrrhus and Cyneas:

Philosphic inquiry took two distinct approaches in searching truth. The first one recognized the precedence of nature and the second of logic.The natural approach took the lead in the course of time through Thales and later with Democritus, but it suffered a recession by the revolutionary teaching of Socrates, Plato and partly of Aristotle, who gave precedence to logic and its ideas. Soon though the theory of Platonic ideas was abandoned and the tradition of Ionian science of Thales was reviving supported by Epicurus and Aristotle who in the later part of his life turned to the study of biology.

This historic evolution of philosophical thought had the immediate effect to create a competition between Nature and Reason for the command of philosophic attention. Epicurus the last of the eminent philosophers of antiquity denied the existence of Platonic ideas on the ground that the only existences were atoms and empty space. Thus to his thinking man stood face to face with physical reality primarily through his senses and secondary through his logic. For if we assume that a human being has been deprived of all his five senses, this is tantamount to death and the person has ceased to be a rational creature; the possession of sensation (and additionally of feeling and anticipation) seems to be construed as antecedent to rational activity.