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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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The “New Cyrenaicism” of Walter Pater

The “New Cyrenaicism” of Walter Pater

(p.168) Chapter 9 The “New Cyrenaicism” of Walter Pater
The Birth of Hedonism

Kurt Lampe

Princeton University Press

This chapter talks about a significant re-appropriation of mainstream Cyrenaic ethics: Walter Pater's “new Cyrenaicism.” It suggests that Pater casts light on four elements that remain obscure in ancient Cyrenaic doxography: “unitemporal pleasure,” the relation of hedonism to traditional virtues, the economy of pleasures and pains, and the Cyrenaic argument against the fear of death. The chapter also argues that the narrative framework of Pater's novel communicates how and why Cyrenaicism could attract someone better than arid doxography ever could. Cyrenaic ethics arises from the interaction of particular individuals' pre-philosophical inclinations with critical reasoning, and develops through the dynamic interaction of these two elements with the satisfying or dissatisfying feedback from experience.

Keywords:   Cyrenaic ethics, Walter Pater, traditional virtues, doxography, unitemporal pleasure, fear of death, pleasure, pain

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