Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that the pursuit of pleasure and intrinsic goods are the primary or most important goals of human life. A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure; however upon gaining said pleasure, happiness may remain stationary. Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them, it is the idea that every person's pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of a student of Socrates, he held the idea. The name derives from the Greek word for "delight". An strong aversion to hedonism is hedonophobia; the condition of being unable to experience pleasure is anhedonia. In the original Old Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, written soon after the invention of writing, Siduri gave the following advice: "Fill your belly. Day and night make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night These things alone are the concern of men."
This may represent the first recorded advocacy of a hedonistic philosophy. Scenes of a harper entertaining guests at a feast were common in ancient Egyptian tombs, sometimes contained hedonistic elements, calling guests to submit to pleasure because they cannot be sure that they will be rewarded for good with a blissful afterlife; the following is a song attributed to the reign of one of the pharaohs around the time of the 12th dynasty, the text was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties. Democritus seems to be the earliest philosopher on record to have categorically embraced a hedonistic philosophy; the Cyrenaics were an ultra-hedonist Greek school of philosophy founded in the 4th century BC by Aristippus of Cyrene, although many of the principles of the school are believed to have been formalized by his grandson of the same name, Aristippus the Younger. The school was so called after the birthplace of Aristippus, it was one of the earliest Socratic schools. The Cyrenaics taught that the only intrinsic good is pleasure, which meant not just the absence of pain, but positively enjoyable momentary sensations.
Of these, physical ones are stronger than those of memory. They did, recognize the value of social obligation, that pleasure could be gained from altruism. Theodorus the Atheist was a latter exponent of hedonism, a disciple of younger Aristippus, while becoming well known for expounding atheism; the school died out within a century, was replaced by Epicureanism. The Cyrenaics were known for their skeptical theory of knowledge, they reduced logic to a basic doctrine concerning the criterion of truth. They thought that we can know with certainty our immediate sense-experiences but can know nothing about the nature of the objects that cause these sensations, they denied that we can have knowledge of what the experiences of other people are like. All knowledge is immediate sensation; these sensations are motions which are purely subjective, are painful, indifferent or pleasant, according as they are violent, tranquil or gentle. Further, they are individual and can in no way be described as constituting absolute objective knowledge.
Feeling, therefore, is the only possible criterion of knowledge and of conduct. Our ways of being affected are alone knowable, thus the sole aim for everyone should be pleasure. Cyrenaicism deduces a single, universal aim for all people, pleasure. Furthermore, all feeling is homogeneous, it follows that past and future pleasure have no real existence for us, that among present pleasures there is no distinction of kind. Socrates had spoken of the higher pleasures of the intellect. Momentary pleasure, preferably of a physical kind, is the only good for humans; however some actions which give immediate pleasure can create more than their equivalent of pain. The wise person should be in control of pleasures rather than be enslaved to them, otherwise pain will result, this requires judgement to evaluate the different pleasures of life. Regard should be paid to law and custom, because though these things have no intrinsic value on their own, violating them will lead to unpleasant penalties being imposed by others.
Friendship and justice are useful because of the pleasure they provide. Thus the Cyrenaics believed in the hedonistic value of altruistic behaviour. Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Leucippus, his materialism led him to the idea of divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom little is known—Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest, sustainable "pleasure" in the form of a state of tranquility and freedom from fear and absence of bodily pain through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires; the combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Althoug
Metrodorus of Lampsacus (the younger)
Metrodorus of Lampsacus was a Greek philosopher of the Epicurean school. Although one of the four major proponents of Epicureanism, only fragments of his works remain. A Metrodorus bust was found in Velia different modeled to depict Parmenides. Metrodorus was a native of Lampsacus on the Hellespont, his father's name was his mother's Sande. Together with his brother Timocrates of Lampsacus he joined the school Epicurus had set up in their home town. Timocrates, soon fell out with both his brother and Epicurus and devoted the rest of his life to spreading malicious slander about them. Metrodorus on the other hand soon became the most distinguished of the disciples of Epicurus, with whom he lived on terms of the closest friendship, whom he followed to Athens, never having left him since he became acquainted with him, except for six months on one occasion, when he paid a visit to his home. Metrodorus died in 278/7 BC, in the 53rd year of his age, seven years before Epicurus, who would have appointed him his successor had he survived him.
He left behind him a son named Epicurus, a daughter, whom Epicurus, in his will, entrusted to the guardianship of Amynomachus and Timocrates of Potamus, to be brought up under the joint care of themselves and Hermarchus, provided for out of the property which he left behind him. In a letter which he wrote upon his death-bed, Epicurus commended the children to the care of Idomeneus, who had married Batis, the sister of Metrodorus; the 20th of each month was kept by the disciples of Epicurus as a festive day in honour of their master and Metrodorus. Leontion is spoken of as the mistress of Metrodorus. Diogenes Laërtius mentioned Epicurus letter, "All my books to be given to Hermarchus, and if anything should happen to Hermarchus before the children of Metrodorus grow up, Amynomachus and Timocrates shall give from the funds bequeathed by me, so far as possible, enough for their several needs, as long as they are well ordered. And let them provide for the rest according to my arrangements. Of my slaves I manumit Mys, Lycon, I give Phaedrium her liberty."
The philosophy of Metrodorus appears to have been of a more sensual kind than that of Epicurus. Perfect happiness, according to Cicero's account, he made to consist in having a well-constituted body, knowing that it would always remain so, he found fault with his brother for not admitting that the belly was the test and measure of every thing that pertained to a happy life. According to Seneca, Epicurus placed Metrodorus among those who acquire assistance in working their way towards truth. Diogenes Laërtius lists the following works by Metrodorus: Πρὸς τοὺς ἰατρούς, τρία – Against the Physicians Περὶ αἰσθήσεων – On Sensations Πρὸς Τιμοκράτην – Against Timocrates Περὶ μεγαλοψυχίας – On Magnanimity Περὶ τῆς Ἐπικούρου ἀρρωστίας – On Epicurus's Weak Health Πρὸς τοὺς διαλεκτικούς – Against the Dialecticians Πρὸς τοὺς σοφιστάς, ἐννέα – Against the Sophists Περὶ τῆς ἐπὶ σοφίαν πορείας – On the Way to Wisdom Περὶ τῆς μεταβολῆς – On Change Περὶ πλούτου – On Wealth Πρὸς Δημόκριτον – Against Democritus Περὶ εὐγενείας – On Noble BirthMetrodorus wrote Against the Euthyphro, Against the Gorgias of Plato.
Small fragments of his work On Wealth, were found among the charred remains at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. Philodemus made use of this work in his own works On Wealth, On Household Economics. Philodemus cites Metrodorus as the author of the view that Cynic poverty was to be rejected in favour of a more affluent way of life, although wealth in no way contributes to happiness. Dorandi, Tiziano. "Chapter 2: Chronology". In Algra, Keimpe; the Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P. 51. ISBN 9780521250283. Laërtius, Diogenes. "Epicurus". Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:10. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew. Loeb Classical Library. § 1–154. Laërtius, Diogenes. "Metrodorus". Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:10. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew. Loeb Classical Library. § 22. Attribution: This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed.. "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition and philosophical hermeneutics, is "widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century." Heidegger is best known for his contributions to phenomenology and existentialism, though as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy cautions, "his thinking should be identified as part of such philosophical movements only with extreme care and qualification". Heidegger's membership in and public support for the Nazi Party has been the subject of widespread controversy regarding the extent to which his Nazism influenced his philosophy, his first and best known book and Time, though unfinished, is one of the central philosophical works of the 20th century. In its first part, Heidegger attempted to turn away from "ontic" questions about beings to ontological questions about Being, recover the most fundamental philosophical question: the question of Being, of what it means for something to be.
Heidegger approached the question through an inquiry into the being that has an understanding of Being, asks the question about it, Human being, which he called Dasein. Heidegger argued that Dasein is defined by Care, its engaged and concernful mode of being-in-the-world, in opposition to such Rationalist thinkers as René Descartes who located the essence of man in his thinking abilities. For Heidegger thinking is thinking about things discovered in our everyday practical engagements; the consequence of this is that our capacity to think cannot be the most central quality of our being because thinking is a reflecting upon this more original way of discovering the world. In the second part of his book, Heidegger argues that human being is more fundamentally structured by its Temporality, or its concern with, relationship to time, existing as a structurally open "possibility-for-being", he emphasized the importance of Authenticity in human existence, involving a truthful relationship to our thrownness into a world which we are "always already" concerned with, to our being-towards-death, the Finitude of the time and being we are given, the closing down of our various possibilities for being through time.
Heidegger made critical contributions to philosophical conceptions of truth, arguing that its original meaning was unconcealment, to philosophical analyses of art as a site of the revelation of truth, to philosophical understanding of language as the "house of being." Heidegger's work includes criticisms of technology's instrumentalist understanding in the Western tradition as "enframing", treating all of Nature as a "standing reserve" on call for human purposes. Heidegger is a controversial figure for his affiliation with Nazism, as Rector of the University of Freiburg for 11 months, before his resignation in April 1934, for which he neither apologized nor publicly expressed regret. Heidegger was born in Baden-Württemberg, the son of Johanna and Friedrich Heidegger. Raised a Roman Catholic, he was the son of the sexton of the village church that adhered to the First Vatican Council of 1870, observed by the poorer class of Meßkirch, his family could not afford to send him to university, so he entered a Jesuit seminary, though he was turned away within weeks because of the health requirement and what the director and doctor of the seminary described as a psychosomatic heart condition.
Heidegger was sinewy, with dark piercing eyes. He enjoyed outdoor pursuits, being proficient at skiing. Studying theology at the University of Freiburg while supported by the church he switched his field of study to philosophy. Heidegger completed his doctoral thesis on psychologism in 1914, influenced by Neo-Thomism and Neo-Kantianism, directed by Arthur Schneider. In 1916, he finished his venia legendi with a habilitation thesis on Duns Scotus directed by Heinrich Rickert and influenced by Edmund Husserl's phenomenology. In the two years following, he worked first as an unsalaried Privatdozent served as a soldier during the final year of World War I. In 1923, Heidegger was elected to an extraordinary Professorship in Philosophy at the University of Marburg, his colleagues there included Rudolf Bultmann, Nicolai Hartmann, Paul Natorp. Heidegger's students at Marburg included Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Gerhard Krüger, Leo Strauss, Jacob Klein, Gunther Anders, Hans Jonas. Following on from Aristotle, he began to develop in his lectures the main theme of his philosophy: the question of the sense of being.
He extended the concept of subject to the dimension of history and concrete existence, which he found prefigured in such Christian thinkers as Saint Paul, Augustine of Hippo and Kierkegaard. He read the works of Wilhelm Dilthey, Max Scheler, Friedrich Nietzsche. In 1927, Heidegger published his main work Sein und Zeit; when Husserl retired as Professor of Philosophy in 1928, Heidegger accepted Freiburg's election to be his successor, in spite of a counter-offer by Marburg. Heidegger remained at Freiburg im Breisgau for the rest of his life, declining a number of offers, including one from Humboldt University of Berlin, his students at Freiburg included Arendt, Günther Anders, Hans Jonas, Karl Löwith, Charles Malik, Herbert Marcuse and Ernst Nolte. Emmanuel Levinas attended his lecture courses during his stay in Freiburg in 1928. Heidegger was elected rector of the University on 21 April 1933, joined the National Socialist German Workers' Part
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality, deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual greatness. In other words, it is a behavior. Doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong; the opposite of virtue is vice. The four classic cardinal virtues in Christianity are temperance, prudence and justice. Christianity derives the three theological virtues of faith and love from 1 Corinthians. Together these make up the seven virtues. Buddhism's four brahmavihara can be regarded as virtues in the European sense; the Japanese Bushidō code is characterized by up to ten virtues, including rectitude and benevolence. The ancient Romans used the Latin word virtus to refer to all of the "excellent qualities of men, including physical strength, valorous conduct, moral rectitude." The French words vertu and virtu came from this Latin root. In the 13th century, the word virtue was "borrowed into English".
During Egyptian civilization, Maat or Ma'at spelled māt or mayet, was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, order, law and justice. Maat was personified as a goddess regulating the stars and the actions of both mortals and the deities; the deities set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her counterpart was Isfet, who symbolized chaos and injustice; the four classic cardinal virtues are: temperance: σωφροσύνη prudence: φρόνησις courage: ἀνδρεία justice: δικαιοσύνη This enumeration is traced to Greek philosophy and was listed by Plato in addition to piety: ὁσιότης, with the exception that wisdom replaced prudence as virtue. Some scholars consider either of the above four virtue combinations as mutually reducible and therefore not cardinal, it is unclear whether multiple virtues were of construct, whether Plato subscribed to a unified view of virtues. In Protagoras and Meno, for example, he states that the separate virtues cannot exist independently and offers as evidence the contradictions of acting with wisdom, yet in an unjust way.
In his work Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle defined a virtue as a point between a deficiency and an excess of a trait. The point of greatest virtue lies not in the exact middle, but at a golden mean sometimes closer to one extreme than the other. However, the virtuous action is not the "mean" between two opposite extremes; as Aristotle says in the Nicomachean Ethics: "at the right times, about the right things, towards the right people, for the right end, in the right way, is the intermediate and best condition, this is proper to virtue." This is not splitting the difference between two extremes. For example, generosity is a virtue between the two extremes of miserliness and being profligate. Further examples include: courage between cowardice and foolhardiness, confidence between self-deprecation and vanity. In Aristotle's sense, virtue is excellence at being human. Seneca, the Roman Stoic, said. Thus, in considering all consequences, a prudent person would act in the same way as a virtuous person.
The same rationale was expressed by Plato in Meno, when he wrote that people only act in ways that they perceive will bring them maximum good. It is the lack of wisdom. In this way, wisdom is the central part of virtue. Plato realized that because virtue was synonymous with wisdom it could be taught, a possibility he had earlier discounted, he added "correct belief" as an alternative to knowledge, proposing that knowledge is correct belief, thought through and "tethered". The term "virtue" itself is derived from the Latin "virtus", had connotations of "manliness", "honour", worthiness of deferential respect, civic duty as both citizen and soldier; this virtue was but one of many virtues which Romans of good character were expected to exemplify and pass on through the generations, as part of the Mos Maiorum. Romans distinguished between the spheres of private and public life, thus, virtues were divided between those considered to be in the realm of private family life, those expected of an upstanding Roman citizen.
Most Roman concepts of virtue were personified as a numinous deity. The primary Roman virtues, both public and private, were: Auctoritas – "spiritual authority" – the sense of one's social standing, built up through experience and Industria; this was considered to be essential for a magistrate's ability to enforce order. Comitas – "humour" – ease of manner, courtesy and friendliness. Constantia – "perseverance" – military stamina, as well as general mental and physical endurance in the face of hardship. Clementia – "mercy" – mildness and gentleness, the ability to set aside previous transgressions. Dignitas – "dignity" – a sense of self-worth, personal self-respect and self-esteem. Disciplina – "discipline" – considered essential to military excellence. Firmitas – "tenacity" – strength of mind, the ability to stick to one's purpose at hand without wavering. Frugalitas – "frugality" – economy and
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher who founded a influential school of philosophy now called Epicureanism. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus and the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens, he and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects, he allowed women to join the school as a matter of policy. An prolific writer, he is said to have written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him—the Letters to Menoeceus and Herodotus—and two collections of quotes—the Principle Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings—have survived intact, along with a few fragments and quotations of his other writings, his teachings are better recorded in the writings of authors, including the Roman poet Lucretius, the philosopher Philodemus, the philosopher Sextus Empiricus, the biographer Diogenes Laërtius.
For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear— and aponia—the absence of pain— and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial, the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. Epicurus taught that the gods, though they do exist, have no involvement in human affairs and do not punish or reward people for their actions. Nonetheless, he maintained that people should still behave ethically because amoral behavior will burden them with guilt and prevent them from attaining ataraxia. Like Aristotle, Epicurus was an empiricist, meaning he believed that the senses are the only reliable source of knowledge about the world.
He derived much of his cosmology from the earlier philosopher Democritus. Like Democritus, Epicurus taught that the universe is infinite and eternal and that all matter is made up of tiny, invisible particles known as atoms. All occurrences in the natural world are the result of atoms moving and interacting in empty space. Epicurus deviated from Democritus in his teaching of atomic "swerve", which holds that atoms may deviate from their expected course, thus permitting humans to possess free will in an otherwise deterministic universe. Though popular, Epicurean teachings were controversial from the beginning. Epicureanism reached the height of its popularity during the late years of the Roman Republic, before declining as the rival school of Stoicism grew in popularity at its expense, it died out in late antiquity in the wake of early Christianity. Epicurus himself was popularly, though inaccurately, remembered throughout the Middle Ages as a patron of drunkards and gluttons, his teachings became more known in the fifteenth century with the rediscovery of important texts, but his ideas did not become acceptable until the seventeenth century, when the French Catholic priest Pierre Gassendi revived a modified version of them, promoted by other writers, including Walter Charleton and Robert Boyle.
His influence grew during and after the Enlightenment, profoundly impacting the ideas of major thinkers, including John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, Karl Marx. Epicurus was born in the Athenian settlement on the Aegean island of Samos in February 341 BC, his parents and Chaerestrate, were both Athenian-born, his father was an Athenian citizen. Epicurus grew up during the final years of the Greek Classical Period. Plato had died seven years before Epicurus was born and Epicurus was seven years old when Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont into Persia; as a child, Epicurus would have received a typical ancient Greek education. As such, according to Norman Wentworth DeWitt, "it is inconceivable that he would have escaped the Platonic training in geometry and rhetoric." Epicurus is known to have studied under the instruction of a Samian Platonist named Pamphilus for about four years. His Letter of Menoeceus and surviving fragments of his other writings suggest that he had extensive training in rhetoric.
After the death of Alexander the Great, Perdiccas expelled the Athenian settlers on Samos to Colophon, on the coast of what is now Turkey. After the completion of his military service, Epicurus joined his family there, he studied under Nausiphanes. Epicurus's teachings were influenced by those of earlier philosophers Democritus. Nonetheless, Epicurus differed from his predecessors on several key points of determinism and vehemently denied having been influenced by any previous philosophers, whom he denounced as "confused". Instead, he insisted that he had been "self-taught". According to DeWitt, Epicurus's teachings show influences from the contemporary philosophical school of Cynicism; the Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope was still alive when Epicurus would have been in Athens for his required military training and it is possible they may have met. Diogenes's pupil Crates of Thebes was a close contemporary of Epicurus. Epicurus agreed with the Cynics' quest for honesty, but rejected their "insolence and vulgarity", instead teaching that honesty must be coupled with courtesy and kindness.
Epicurus shared this view with the comic playwright Menander. Epicurus's Lett
Michel Onfray is a contemporary French writer and philosopher who writes in favour of a hedonistic and atheist world view. He is a prolific author on philosophy, having written more than 100 books, he has gained notoriety for writing such works as Traité d'athéologie: Physique de la métaphysique, Politique du rebelle: traité de résistance et d'insoumission, Physiologie de Georges Palante, portrait d'un nietzchéen de gauche, La puissance d'exister and La sculpture de soi for which he won the annual Prix Médicis in 1993. His philosophy is influenced by such thinkers as Nietzsche, the cynic and cyrenaic schools, French materialism. Born in Argentan to a family of Norman farmers, Onfray was sent to a weekly Catholic boarding school from ages 10 to 14; this was a solution many parents in France adopted at the time when they lived far from the village school or had working hours that made it too hard or too expensive to transport their children to and from school daily. The young Onfray, did not appreciate his new environment, which he describes as a place of suffering.
Onfray went on to graduate with a teaching degree in philosophy. He taught this subject to senior students at a high school that concentrates on technical degrees in Caen between 1983 and 2002. At that time, he and his supporters established the Université populaire de Caen, proclaiming its foundation on a free-of-charge basis and on the manifesto written by Onfray in 2004. Onfray is an atheist and author of Traité d'Athéologie, which "became the number one best-selling nonfiction book in France for months when it was published in the Spring of 2005; this book repeated its popular French success in Italy, where it was published in September 2005 and soared to number one on Italy's bestseller lists."In the 2002 election, Onfray endorsed the French Revolutionary Communist League and its candidate for the French presidency, Olivier Besancenot. In 2007, he endorsed José Bové, but voted for Olivier Besancenot, conducted an interview with the future French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who, he declared for Philosophie Magazine, was an "ideological enemy".
His book Le crépuscule d'une idole: L'affabulation freudienne, published in 2010, has been the subject of considerable controversy in France because of its criticism of Freud. He recognizes Freud as a philosopher, but he brings attention to the considerable cost of Freud's treatments and casts doubts on the effectiveness of his methods. In 2015, he published the first book of a trilogy. Onfray considers that it constitutes his "very first book". Onfray writes, he considers theist religion to be indefensible. Onfray has published 9 books under a project of history of philosophy called Counter-history of Philosophy. In each of these books Onfray deals with a particular historical period in western philosophy; the series of books are composed by the titles I. Les Sagesses Antiques, II. Le Christianisme hédoniste, III. Les libertins baroques, IV. Les Ultras des Lumières, V. L'Eudémonisme social, VI. Les Radicalités existentielles and VII. La construction du surhomme: Jean-Marie Guyau, Friedrich Nietzsche.
VIII Les Freudiens hérétiques. IX Les Consciences réfractaires. In an interview he establishes his view on the history of philosophy. For him: There is in fact a multitude of ways to practice philosophy, but out of this multitude, the dominant historiography picks one tradition among others and makes it the truth of philosophy:, to say the idealist, spiritualist lineage compatible with the Judeo-Christian world view. From that point on, anything that crosses this partial – in both senses of the word – view of things finds itself dismissed; this applies to nearly all non-Western philosophies, Oriental wisdom in particular, but sensualist, materialist, hedonistic currents and everything that can be put under the heading of "anti-Platonic philosophy". Philosophy that comes down from the heavens is the kind that – from Plato to Levinas by way of Kant and Christianity – needs a world behind the scenes to understand and justify this world; the other line of force rises from the earth because it is satisfied with the given world, so much.
"His mission is to rehabilitate materialist and sensualist thinking and use it to re-examine our relationship to the world. Approaching philosophy as a reflection of each individual's personal experience, Onfray inquires into the capabilities of the body and its senses and calls on us to celebrate them through music and fine cuisine." He defines hedonism "as an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else." "Onfray's philosophical project is to define an ethical hedonism, a joyous utilitarianism, a generalized aesthetic of sensual materialism that explores how to use the brain's and the body's capacities to their fullest extent – while restoring philosophy to a useful role in art and everyday life and decisions."Onf
Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Julien Offray de La Mettrie was a French physician and philosopher, one of the earliest of the French materialists of the Enlightenment. He is best known for his work L'homme machine. La Mettrie was born at Saint-Malo in Brittany on November 23, 1709, was the son of a prosperous textile merchant, his initial schooling took place in the colleges of Caen. After attending the Collège du Plessis in Paris, he seemed to have acquired a vocational interest in becoming a clergyman, but after studying theology in the Jansenist schools for some years, his interests turned away from the Church. In 1725, La Mettrie entered the College d'Harcourt to study philosophy and natural science graduating around 1728. At this time, D'Harcourt was pioneering the teaching of Cartesianism in France. In 1734, he went on to study under Hermann Boerhaave, a renowned physician who had intended on becoming a clergyman, it was under Boerhaave that La Mettrie was influenced to try to bring changes to medical education in France.
After his studies at D'Harcourt, La Mettrie decided to take up the profession of medicine. A friend of the La Mettrie family, François-Joseph Hunauld, about to take the chair of anatomy at the Jardin du Roi, seems to have influenced him in this decision. For five years, La Mettrie studied at faculty of medicine in Paris, enjoyed the mentorship of Hunauld. In 1733, however, he departed for Leiden to study under the famous Herman Boerhaave, his stay in Holland proved to be influential. In the following years, La Mettrie settled down to professional medical practice in his home region of Saint-Malo, disseminating the works and theories of Boerhaave through the publication and translation of several works, he married in 1739 but the marriage, which produced two children, proved an unhappy one. In 1742 La Mettrie left his family and travelled to Paris, where he obtained the appointment of surgeon to the Gardes Françaises regiment, taking part in several battles during the War of the Austrian Succession.
This experience would instill in him a deep aversion to violence, evident in his philosophical writings. Much of his time, was spent in Paris, it is that during this time he made the acquaintance of Maupertuis and the Marquise de Châtelet, it was in these years, during an attack of fever, that he made observations on himself with reference to the action of quickened blood circulation upon thought, which led him to the conclusion that mental processes were to be accounted for as the effects of organic changes in the brain and nervous system. This conclusion he worked out in the Histoire naturelle de l'âme. So great was the outcry caused by its publication that La Mettrie was forced to quit his position with the French Guards, taking refuge in Leiden. There he developed his doctrines still more boldly and in L'Homme machine, a hastily written treatise based upon materialistic and quasi-atheistic principles. La Mettrie's materialism was in many ways the product of his medical concerns, drawing on the work of 17th-century predecessors such as the Epicurean physician Guillaume Lamy.
The ethical implications of these principles would be worked out in his Discours sur le bonheur. Here he developed his theory of remorse, i.e. his view about the inauspicious effects of the feelings of guilt acquired at early age during the process of enculturation. This was the idea which brought him the enmity of all thinkers of the French Enlightenment, a damnatio memoriae, lifted only a century by Friedrich Albert Lange in his Geschichte des Materialismus. Julien de La Mettrie is considered one of the most influential determinists of the eighteenth century. Along with aiding the furthering of determinism he considered himself a mechanistic materialist, he believed. He expressed these thoughts in his most important work Man a Machine. There he expressed his belief that humans worked like a machine; this theory can be considered to build off the work of Descartes and his approach to the human body working as a machine. La Mettrie believed that man and mind, worked like a machine. Although he helped further Descartes' view of mechanization in explaining human bodily behavior, he argued against Descartes' dualistic view on the mind.
His opinions were so strong that he stated that Descartes was a materialist in regards to the mind. Prior to Man a Machine he published The Natural History of the Soul in 1745, he argued. A great deal of controversy emerged due to his belief that "from animals to man there is no abrupt transition", he built of that idea claiming that humans and animals were composed of organized matter. He believed that humans and animals were only different in regards to the complexity that matter was organized, he compared the differences between man and animal to those of high quality pendulum clocks and watches stating: " is to the ape, to the most intelligent animals, as the planetary pendulum of Huygens is to a watch of Julien Le Roy". The idea that no real difference between humans and animals existed was based on his findings that sensory feelings were present in animals and plants. While he did recognize that only humans spoke a language, he thought that animals were capable of learning a language, he used apes as an example, stating that if they were trained they would be "perfect ".
He further expressed his ideas that man was not different from animals by suggesting that we learn through imitation as do animals. His beliefs about humans and anim