Oh, this Epicurus. As a wannabe philosopher, who had just started to use the logical portion of her brain, I was rather baffled at some of Epicurus’ concepts.
His puzzling view that the greatest pleasure lies in the elimination of suffering, and all above that is a mere unwelcome excess, ran quite contrary to my intuition. Soon, however, I got to appreciate its value. Right next to it was Epicurus’ vision of death. Death should be taken lightly, and to die is not at all a misfortune. How come? Well, in a practical aspect, teaches Epicurus, to the living death means nothing. When we’re alive, it is simply not our problem, as it does not apply to us — for it applies to the dead only. So while we’re still breathing, we’re inadvertently beyond it. When eventually death indeed happens to us, we’re just gone, simple as that. No mind to process the whole thing, no heart to pound in fear. Death again does not constitute an issue, because, frankly, nothing does anymore. Thus, embraced from all sides and from within by nothingness, we’re well beyond it again.
And here, amidst the philosophical talk, a little cat appears on the stage, a small, crying ball of haplessness and pain. It can’t walk, it can’t drink water, its skin burns with the multitude of tiny flea bites. Next to the cat, stands Person A. Person A, for whatever reasons, feels morally obliged to help the cat and take all the measures to alleviate his suffering. Now let’s picture a blackboard right behind them. A chalk guided by an invisible hand writes the following data:
The goal: to deliver the cat from pain.
Additional data: death removes everything => death removes all suffering
The possible solutions:
a) go out of your way, spend time, effort, money, and love to fix the cat.
b) just kill it.
Both solutions are plausible as they both result in achieving the goal; however, (b) seems far less complex and quick, thus, apparently better. And yet, Person A chooses (a). The question is: why? The answer? I really, really do not know.
It is the time to dive deep in the ancient texts and scrutinise Epicurus: tell us, teacher, what were your reasons for clinging to life with all its pains while a remedy to all of them was all the time within your reach? Let us see.