In this letter Epicurus claims that death is nothing to us, because the only things that are good or bad are our states of awareness, and we are not aware when we are at the state of death. We recognise that death is simply the non-existence of the person. As Epicurus explain death “it is nothing to us, seeing that, when we exist death is not present, and when death is present we do not exist.
It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer.”(Letter to Menoeceus). Epicurus also goes on to say that a wise person does not lessen the value life or fear. He suggests that a wise person chooses a pleasant life, over a life that lasts long but dull. After all, what is the point of living without obtaining some form of pleasure? At this point we can accept Epicurus’s argument that a pleasant life is to be preferred over an extended but extremely dull life.
Epicurus describes pleasure as our ‘primary native good’. Pleasure is ‘primary’ because it is the “starting point and goal of a happy life”(Letter to Menoeceus). It is ‘native’ because pleasure is the lead in every action we take. Everything we do is done in order to avoid pain or stress, which is caused by a lack of pleasure. And it is ‘good’ because pleasure is how we measure how good something is.
What Epicurus wants us to understand, is that pleasure is essential and central when wanting to lead a good life for humans.Epicurus also thinks pleasure is freedom from pain and fear. Pain comes in different forms depending on our needs and whether or not if they are met. Fear may come when we think about death and our existence. But the Epicurean way is about talking in between pain and fear.
When we achieve this balance there is certain calm in our soul that makes us not want to need anything more. It is the simple life we should lead, that provides only what is required for health and life.Epicurus’ Letter describes his philosophy for the good life. It is a simple life of pleasure, while avoiding pain and fear. He taught that the point of all of our actions was to get pleasure for oneself, which is done my limiting our desires and by removing our fear of the gods and death.