Short Essays: Epicurus & Happiness

The Epicurian’s identified issues in Western society that aren’t so much ignored – as they expressed constantly – but never actually followed through with. Western culture has been replaced with consumerism, this imperialistic idiocy has now even spread through into the East like the cancer it is. Isn’t it funny how many people complain about corporations only to play part in the perpetuation of the decadent disease eating away at social cohesion and happiness, suffocating us all with excessive and unnecessary anxiety and despair. We need to finally see this existence (if you can truly call it existence) for the absurdity it is; to collectively perceive it, and then rebel against it. I do not say this in a socialist sense, the solution to the conundrum is metapolitical, we need to reject the notion that all societal disorders can be solved only through political and economic resolutions. It is how we interact with each other and objects that is the true issue at hand.

“when you can simultaneously “experience” an assassination attempt against the King of France and a symphony in Tokyo; when time is nothing but speed, instantaneity, and simultaneity, and time has vanished from all Dasein of all peoples; when a boxer counts as the great man of a people; when the tallies of millions at mass meetings are a triumph; then, yes then, there still looms like a spectre over all this uproar this question: what for? – where to? – and what then?” Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics

 

But what does this have too do with happiness? It has everything to do with happiness, for how can we be happy when we have created an existence where everything is considered in monetary and/or materialistic terms? That is to say, how can we be happy when happiness is a telos that is out of reach? Everything that exists materialistically is subject to decomposition, in terms of time everything comes into Being beginning as an Idea which is then formed by the creator of the object – in the cyclical conception of history these two steps place the process at the top of the circle, then begins the decline. The object is brought into being and now begins to decompose, every object we have is subject to the process of not-Being. What exists abstractly does not die. Ideas are eternal, the works of Heraclitus, Plato and Nietzsche will be reproduced for the remainder of human history, each book itself will die but the ideas will live on. The objects accumulated by a wealthy billionaire will die, his house will crumble, he will constantly purchase more, he will constantly pursue more wealth – the gaining of an object is never enough, the gaining of more wealth is never enough.

The gaining of a life partner is invaluable, of becoming one with that person is a happiness you will never be able to purchase, of having children and raising them – of those children being part of each of you, a Being with consciousness who will one day create their own – this is invaluable. Intellectual pursuits that generate ideas that enrichen the lives of others, that help others through dark periods where they feel alone, where they have entered the deepest darkest depths of despair, this is invaluable. These notions do not originate in the material plane of existence, they are organic, they have a “what for? – where to? – what then?” because they have a purpose: they can bring a genuine happiness to you without a price tag, without being done solely as a financial gain to others.

 

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