Stoicism and Epicureanism as the Foundation of Modern University Education

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Today, many people think that the way of study in the universities is quite different now from the idea that uses in, for example, epicurean or stoics schools. I believe that the background of today's education was laid definitely at the time of Ancient Greece.

Epicurus divides philosophy into three interconnected parts — canonic (theory of knowledge), physic (theory of nature), and ethic, while ethics is of paramount importance for the Epicurus. That is why we can say that epicureanism serves quite specific needs: looking for a way to rid humanity of suffering. The only benefit for man is a pleasure, which Epicurus understood as the absence of pain. To gain such pleasure, it is necessary to get rid of all anxieties, government activities, and dangers. For the Epicureans, the outside world was a source of heightened danger and fear, and fame, wealth, power did not deserve to devote their lives to them. They considered science and art secondary to the good of the individual. It is also worth noting that the school taught people to understand that they should not be afraid of death. For the Epicureans, the material world consists of atoms moving chaotically. The human soul is also composed of atoms. Since the world is based on immortal atoms, death does not exist. The main point of such education was to convey that more important than feelings there is nothing, and you need to enjoy moments here and now.

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Against the philosophy of Epicurus were the Stoics. If we talk about Stoics way of education we can see that it has some similarities with epicurean, but epicureans and stoics held different views on life. The Stoics said that philosophy is like an orchard, where logic is a fence, physics is trees, and ethics are fruits. They were convinced that a man must live courageously, heroically and hopelessly. The Stoics adhered to the principle of 'passive heroism' - the principle of indifference to the vicissitudes of fate, you need to live vigorously and carefully carry out everything that you have written (above, the emperor). Despite the well-known similarities between the Stoic and the Epicurean ethics, the difference between them is very significant: the Stoics ideal is more severe, they adhere to the altruistic principle of duty and fearlessness before the blows of fate; the ideal of the Epicurean sage is not so much a moral as an aesthetic, it is based on self-enjoyment.

How is this way of educating people connected, for example, with the way of education people in the University of New York in Prague? Not depending on the subjects and majors for which the students are studying, they get a background for the values of a country, in my case it is America. When we are teaching subjects, we also teach Western values, for example, how to behave with people, and this also means ethics. It is important that people communicate with each other at university. I think that education in Ancient Greece served as the background for today's universities. For what people go to the universities? Furthermore, most of the students prefer to study in prestigious universities if there is an opportunity for this. First, of course, for knowledge to be knowledgeable in one area or another.

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Stoicism and Epicureanism as the Foundation of Modern University Education. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
“Stoicism and Epicureanism as the Foundation of Modern University Education.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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