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The Birth of HedonismThe Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life$
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Kurt Lampe

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161136

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161136.001.0001

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Hegesias’s Pessimism

Hegesias’s Pessimism

(p.120) Chapter 7 Hegesias’s Pessimism
The Birth of Hedonism

Kurt Lampe

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the enigma of Hegesias' pessimism. It criticizes the interpretation of Wallace Matson, according to whom Hegesias' pessimism is the result of his “ruthless deduction” of the consequences of basic Cyrenaic principles. Pessimism is therefore a “gloomy” corner into which Hegesias finds himself coerced by reasoning. After refuting Matson's interpretation of the evidence, the chapter develops an alternative, beginning by emphasizing the thematic importance of indifference throughout the Hegesiac evidence. Comparison with Pyrrho shows how an attitude of indifference can be valued by Hegesias' philosophical contemporaries. In fact it has heroic or semi-divine resonances, which leads to a theory that several other aspects of Hegesiac ethics lend themselves to analysis as a sort of philosophical heroism.

Keywords:   Hegesias, pessimism, Wallace Matson, Cyrenaic principles, indifference, Pyrrho, Hegesiac ethics, philosophical heroism

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