For next week, please read the sections on Montaigne and Cicero in DeBotton's The Consolations of Philosophy, pages 75- 168. Please also read the articles at these links, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
We discussed pleasure and friendship in class this week, with some reference to competition and the pursuit of power. Here's the next writing assignment: Download file
David Konstan says this in his article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, online and very useful;
"Empty desires are those that have as their objects things designated by empty sounds, such as immortality, which cannot exist for human beings and do not correspond to any genuine need. The same holds for the desire for great wealth or for marks of fame, such as statues: they cannot provide the security that is the genuine object of the desire. Such desires, accordingly, can never be satisfied, any more than the corresponding fears — e.g., the fear of death — can ever be alleviated, since neither has a genuine referent, i.e., death as something harmful (when it is present, we do not exist) or wealth and power as salves for anxiety. Such empty fears and desires, based on what Epicurus calls kenodoxia or empty belief, are themselves the main source of perturbation and pain in civilized life, where more elementary dangers have been brought under control, since they are the reason why people are forever driven to strive for limitless wealth and power, subjecting themselves to the very dangers they imagine they are avoiding."
Check out the article. Google "Stanford philosophy" and search for Epicurus.
For October 17, please read DeBotton's section on Epicurus, "Consolation for Not Having Enough Money," pp. 45-72.. Think about how his ideal of human happiness and goodness is like and unlike those represented by Thoreau and by Plato in Republic.
Please read further in Walden for this week. This is the assignment: Download file