Letters To Herodotus Analysis

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In his Letters to Herodotus, Epicurus’ material outlook assumes that all things are made out of atoms, an argument that he extends to the soul. He raises the point that the soul is material and capable of sensation, and these sensations build out thoughts; however, this assumption tends to categorize human thoughts and limit originality and creativity.
In the text, Epicurus explains that the soul is a structure that is material and primarily used for sensation; these sensations become responsible for our thoughts and reason. The soul’s relationship to the body is important in this respect. For example, Epicurus explains that the soul is furnished by the body and cannot survive without it. For this argument, he assumes that sensations are not
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The underlying reason for the soul being a special material is that it affects not just our daily bodily processes, but also immaterial things (i.e. sensations of love, happiness, betrayal that are not tied down to one specific part of the body). This is significant because he means that if a person were to lose his arm, he would still be able to experience things like love and happiness. Even though he has lost part of the body (and therefore some little part of the soul that caused sensations in his arm), the rest of his soul remains intact so he is not deprived of the feeling of other sensations. In this sense, the body cannot produce sensation on its own and needs the soul. In this way, the soul acts upon the body (i.e. causes/creates sensations that can be felt), but it is also dependent on the body because the body acts on the soul through providing a vehicle for things to be felt; after death, the body ceases to exist and the soul has nothing through which to furnish sensations. This relationship between the soul and sensation provides a basis for thoughts. From Epicurus’s …show more content…
If the soul is so closely tied to the body, this presents some problems. Since the soul is present as a part of every human body, and human bodies have similar morphologies, then that means all souls a structured in a similar way. This part of Epicurus’ experiment makes sense because since the soul is responsible for sensation, sensations should be similar across all humans. Proof exists in the real world because universal feelings, such as grief over the death of a loved one, manifest them selves across different people and even different species. However, the lapse in reasoning comes when Epicurus states that thoughts result from a complex set of sensations. Since sensations are universal across different humans, his implies that humans’ thoughts and reasons are also universal. However, this poses a problem when it comes to creating original ideas and approaching situations creatively. For example, if we assume the opposite of Epicurus’ argument, that thoughts are not just a set of sensations, we can see that different people can think differently about certain situations. This is true in the real world because even though food causes the same sensation in our body (i.e. filling an empty stomach, providing energy), our thoughts about certain types of foods can differ (whether they are pleasant or unpleasant).

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