The teachings of Epicurus are explored and applied to contemporary life in this debut philosophical study–cum–self-help guide by Dimitriadis.
The intention of this 500-page study is to “reintroduce pleasure” as an “innate guide to living a healthy and happy life.” Throughout most of his adult life, Dimitriadis admits that he was a corporate climber. In his 50s, he came to the abrupt realization that he no longer recognized himself—he was “distressed, anxious, asking for more and more.” He turned to the works of the great philosophers but found, frustratingly, that their teachings had “no practical application” in his life. He finally stumbled across a letter written by Epicurus—it would prove to be life-changing. His fascination ignited, Dimitriadis spent 12 years fervently researching the ancient Greek philosopher’s teachings, a journey that he believes radically improved his worldview. In this detailed study, the author proposes that contemporary society is characterized by a fear of pleasure. Dimitriadis suggests that all of the “goods” required for happiness are present in the natural world yet regularly overlooked or unappreciated. He sets about identifying and investigating various forms of natural pleasure, such as friendship, food, and knowledge—all critical to Epicurean thinking. His belief is that each individual must choose wisely between the pleasures outlined to discover harmony and happiness. The study goes on to consider ways the teachings of Epicurus can be implemented in contemporary society, where perceptions of natural pleasure, for example friendship, have become skewed or undervalued.
Dimitriadis writes with open-hearted enthusiasm for his subject and believes that Epicurean philosophy has the power to change lives: “But worry not as you are inherently well equipped for this journey to the joyful life. With determination and perseverance, you too will find the happiness to which you are entitled.” In his quest for knowledge, the author deftly summarizes a wide range of philosophers including Sartre, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard, tackling complex ideas by keeping sentences short and simple. On occasion, however, he oversimplifies, which results in him losing his intellectual poise: “Plato and Descartes could not be more wrong when they declared that the mind is completely separate from the body.” Granted, this is not an academic thesis—its intention is to enlighten a wider audience beyond that of the university philosophy department. Many will welcome this intentionally simplistic, accessible style while others may consider the approach somewhat glib. A minor technical criticism is that the author struggles with the use of articles, which affects the fluidity of his writing: “Courage is identical with the lack of cowardice and servility.” Still, this is an engaging, admirably earnest bid to help others to live a more fulfilling life via a deeper understanding of themselves and others.
Scrupulously researched, far-reaching, but not without its flaws.