Epicurus Letter to Menoeceus is about life and explains it from a philosophers point of view. In it he discusses pleasure, pain, death, fear, judgment, destiny, ignorance and many other debatable issues that humans experience. The one idea that struck my attention is from a passage about pleasure and morals. He doesnt use the word moral but rather implies that morals are connected to pleasure. The passage states, Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting-point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.
Epicurus simply indicates Pleasure which means that it could be anyones pleasure. By simply stating pleasure in a general term it could mean that pleasure of another person may bring pleasure to oneself. One could make a sacrifice in order to please another person (or people) which ultimately pleases oneself. For example, a man or woman who is willing to give up their life for their country would be pleasing himself or herself as well as the country. That is a huge sacrifice that one may make in order to fulfill their desire to do something good. Epicurus suggests that pleasure is our first thought that is good. So in order for something to be good it must be pleasurable to anyone including yourself.
He also states that pleasure is our first and kindred good. This suggests that from the time that we are born we associate good as something pleasing. Infants learn that eating, sleeping, being changed to be more comfortable, cuddling, having a blanket for warmth, and any other physical needs are all good or pleasing to the baby. As we grow our pleasure comes from our emotions as well as our physical desires. The parent of a child receives his or her pleasure from the caring and nurturing of the child.
According to Epicurus, our choices are based on pleasure. As we age our form of pleasure transfers from a physical need to our emotional needs. When we evaluate a situation we tend to think about what would be best or the most pleasing to us. An example of this is that I choose to go to school because it makes me happy to have an education and so I can feel secure in my future. My choice was made from an evaluation of how pleasing it would be for me, had it not been pleasing I would have altered my choice. Both the feelings of security and happiness were evaluated before I made my decision.
Epicurus also mentions feelings and how they effect our judgment of good. Since our choices are based on pleasure they effect our morals or our judgment. When a person considers another persons feelings over their own is a value that is instilled in their morals when they are young. For example people that have children place their pleasure on the happiness of their child. From this the child is learning the pleasure of pleasing others and that it is good.
Epicurus entwines the idea that pleasure is connected to our judgment of everything that is good. He began by talking about pleasure and how it is the first thing that we learn. He then says that we consider the amount of pleasure something will bring us before we make our decisions about things. Then he brings in the idea of how pleasure is a feeling and that we make feelings our basis for determining if something is good. From all these feelings and judgments we are given our morals. So if we didnt have feelings would it be possible to have good morals?