Gassendi On The Active Epicurean Life: Gliding Firm Like a River


[Some criticize the Epicurean view of pleasure, and] [s]ome laugh hereat:  They object, that this pleasure is like the condition of one that sleeps, and accuse us of sloath, never considering that this constitution of ours is not a meer stupidity, but rather a state wherein all actions of life are performed pleasantly and sweetly.  For, as we would not have the life of a wise man to be like a torrent or rapid stream, so we would not it should be like a standing dead-pool:  but rather like a river gliding on silently and quietly.  We therefore hold his pleasure is not unactive, but that which reason makes firm to him.

But to omit these, and to return to our subject, there are two good things of which our chiefest Felicity consists; That  the mind be free from trouble, the body from pain; and so as that these goods be so full, and all trouble taken away, that they admit not increase.  For how can that increase which is full?  If the body be free from all pain, what can be added to this indolence?  If the mind from perturbation, what can be added to this tranquility?  As the serenity of Heaven being refin’d to the sincerest splendor, admits no greater splendor; so the state of a man who takes care of his body and soul, and connects his good out of both, is perfect, and he hath attained the end of his desires, if his body be neither subject to pain, nor his mind to disturbance.  If any externall blandishments happen, they increase not the chief good, but, as I may say, season and sweeten it; for that absolute good of human nature is contained in the peace of the soul and the body.
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