The Cyrenaics

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The Cyrenaics
They lived in the city of Cyrene on the Mediterranean coast of Africa. They taught a philosophy of hedonism...the convivial side of Socrates’ nature is their emphasis. 1
Aristippus (born abt. 435 B.C.)

advocates a simple, straight forward hedonism: the good is the greatest amount of intense and enduring pleasure. All pleasures are equal in value, though physical pleasures seem to be the most intense.

But: pleasure seeking becomes pain seeking: for pleasure requires the satisfaction of a lack or need; and also, the consequences of too much pleasure are often painful.
Therefore, we should seek mental pleasures instead.
But those pleasures are also victims of the above paradox, though in a less dramatic way.
Theodorus (another Cyrencaic philosopher) concludes that particular pleasures are unimportant, but only a steady state of cheerfulness counts.
Attained how? By “the avoidance of trouble” says Hegesias, the third member of the Cyrenaic school. Hegesias even recommended suicide to avoid all troubles.
So, the straight-forward pleasure seeking of Aristippus evolves into a quietistic life of avoidance of pain and trouble.
This is where the story of Epicurus, the greatest of the ancient Hedonist philosophers, begins.

1 these notes are based on The Story of Western Philosophy,l Frank Parker’s book.


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