Epicureanism or stoicism – which offers a clearer signpost to a better future?

Schools of thought

Letter of the Day

A chara, – I was amazed to read Róisín Lanigan’s stimulating essay on stoicism only to find no mention of its great philosophical rival, epicureanism (“Pro tips from ancient thinkers: why are people in their teens and twenties suddenly so obsessed by the Stoics?”, People, May 25th).

When I was a schoolboy I had the great benefit of two Latin and Greek teachers, one of whom was a fan of stoicism and Cicero, and the other a devout (if that’s not an inappropriate word) follower of Epicurus.

Essentially, the message of stoicism is to put up with it, to endure misery as part of the great web. Epicureanism is about finding happiness in life and getting stuck in to change things that don’t lead to happiness.

As a Marxist from a working-class family, it was obvious to me that the point is not to understand the world, but to change it.


The ideas of Epicurus offer a clearer signpost to a better future than the put up and shut up programme of the stoics. – Is mise,


Cluain Dolcáin,

Baile Átha Cliath 22.