Philosophy 1301:

de Botton Paper: Epicurus

You are to write a 750-word paper (750 words MINIMUM, double-spaced, 1100 maximum). The paper must be submitted in .doc or .docx or PDF format. Use some reasonable font of your choosing, such as Arial, Calibri, or Verdana.


For Epicurus, happiness is linked to pleasure (or really, your freedom from pain). By cultivating pleasures that avoid subsequent pain, we can live a happy life. We need three goods: friends, time to think, and self-sufficiency. Without these, we can never be happy, even if we are loaded with cash. Epicurus advises us to look in the right place for happiness (even though we are often deceived by society and advertising about where to find it).

Describe Epicurus’s views on the origins/causes of sadness and unhappiness. And does life have to be full of these sadnesses (or can it be different)? What is Epicurus’s prescription to live a better life?

Source: de Botton “Consolations of Philosophy” pages 45-72. No other sources (even if relevant). The use of other sources will be penalized, so please use the de Botton text only.

In this paper, you are to address each of the following questions:

  1. Explain in your own words that philosopher’s theory and ideas. What are their views, arguments, and reasons? Do not use the pronoun “I” here. (a will be around 2 pages)
  2. Give your critical analysis of the philosopher’s ideas and arguments. DO NOT APPEAL TO FEELINGS OR BELIEFS. Tell me your critical thoughts. Personal feelings are irrelevant to discussing the philosopher’s ideas in paper. You may use the pronoun “I” here.

You should write your paper in the standard essay format. This is, in brief, the following:

  1. Introduction: Say what you are going to do in the body of the essay and have a thesis statement;
  2. Body of the Essay: Write the substantive content of the essay;
  3. Conclusion: Review what you have done in the body of the essay.

Obviously, the body of the essay will be several paragraphs long. You don’t need to put fluff, sweeping generalities, grand-sounding statements, historical trivia, or clever remarks in your introduction or conclusion. Your job is simply to clearly signal to me what you are up to in the paper.

Do not use any source other than the selections from the course readings, and use your own words to discuss the ideas. If you quote from one of the course materials, give an appropriate citation, which must include the page or pages from which the quote is drawn. Do not use lazy paraphrasing to try to avoid giving a citation. If you are going to quote, quote; if you are not, then you should properly write your own sentences. You have an obligation to offer citations where you draw upon that source. The scope of this responsibility much be such as would avoid committing plagiarism.

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:

  • Directly quoting the words of others without using quotation marks or indented format to identify them.
  • Using sources of information (published or unpublished) without identifying them.
  • Paraphrasing materials or ideas of others without identifying the sources.

Note that I have specified that “identifying” a source requires (1) giving full bibliographic information at the appropriate place (i.e. the bibliography and, where required by the specific system of citation used, the first point at which the source is cited) as well as (2) giving a specific page citation in each instance where have cited that source. If you do not fulfill these obligations, you will get an F for plagiarism. You can use either MLA, APA, or Chicago style cite form.

Your writing should be crisp, clear, concise, and well organized. Be as thorough as is required to accurately convey the appropriate information. Writing so little as to be unclear or incomplete in your treatment of the topic is a problem; but it is not a problem that can be remedied by filling out pages with fluff, waffle, and vague generalities. I will value precision, clarity, and rigor over literary flourish and clever style. Better to be clunky and clear than stylish and vague.

Remember to adopt that standard approach as writing as if you are addressing a reasonably intelligent reader who is unfamiliar with these topics. You have take care to explain things to him/her. Use technical terms as appropriate, but you must always explain any such technical terms. Please consult Paper Rules for more details as well.

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