"If every pleasure had been capable of accumulation, not only over time but also over the entire body or at least over the principal parts of our nature, then pleasures would never differ from one another."
- Epicurus (Principal Doctrines, 9)
Some ideas of my own that were raised by the quote:
We all have many kinds of needs and desires that we will overdo if we are given half a chance. However, as Bertrand Russell famously said "To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues."
His message is also that virtue is a virtue just because it is not easy to achieve. So, in the end a virtue is a thing that is commonly achieved with restraining some basic human desires.
If we do not ever even try to slow down, we will just want more and more. This danger was already plainly visible for thinkers like Epicurus thousands of years ago. Wise people like him saw that there are many good things that we can want too much.
Epicurus saw that one should combat the danger of overindulgence with self-discipline. He saw that one should use the power of reasoning to limit the endless and often insatiable needs. Epicurus saw that true tranquility and peace of mind are not attained with having more, bigger and better pleasures. He saw that true tranquility can be achieved with limiting want.
(This piece was refurbished on 11th of November, 2012)
Epicurus is on Facebook at:
"Epicurus (Greek: Ἐπίκουρος, Epikouros, "ally, comrade"; 341 BC – 270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher as well as the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Only a few fragments and letters of Epicurus's 300 written works remain. Much of what is known about Epicurean philosophy derives from later followers and commentators."