Pleasure as a Criterion of Truth in Epicurus

J. C. B. Gosling and C. C. W. Taylor

in The Greeks On Pleasure

Published in print December 1982 | ISBN: 9780198246664
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681035 | DOI:
Pleasure as a Criterion of Truth in Epicurus

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Chapter 17 showed how both Plato and Aristotle appealed, in different ways, to the judgement of the good, i.e., rational man, as a criterion of discrimination between pleasures; that judgement was the test of which of the various possible lives was the pleasantest, or which of the many available pleasures were real pleasures, and hence necessary constituents of a fully worthwhile human life. In the thought of Epicurus, pleasure is associated with the concept of a criterion, but here the nature of the association is apparently quite different. Instead of the good man's judgement being a criterion of reality for pleasures (or, equivalently, a criterion of truth for judgements to the effect that such and such activities are pleasant), pleasure itself is described as a criterion of truth. This chapter considers the role of criteria of truth in Epicurus' thought and the way in which the criteria he recognized were thought to fulfil that role; in so doing his treatment of pleasure can be placed in its epistemological context.

Keywords: Epicurus; pleasure; criterion; truth

Chapter.  6342 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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