De su descripción divertida de un paraíso epicúreo, excluye a Platón (quien se había alejado a vivir en su propia República) y a los estoicos (que todavía estaban tratando de escalar la colina de la virtud), así como a los académicos, que eran “incapaces de comprender cómo puede haber una isla tal”, y por lo tanto “volvieron atrás en medio de su camino a la misma”. En otras palabras, un paraíso naturalista no está disponible a aquellos que buscan la virtud o alguna otra meta arbitraria que no sea la establecida por la naturaleza (el placer) o para aquellos que racionalizan las cosas demasiado (los aristotélicos), y los platónicos ni siquiera van a buscar estas dichas.
We know from Philodemus’ scrolls that philosophy heals the mind through the use of words, through reasonings and arguments. Therefore, the practice of true philosophy for an Epicurean is therapeutic and involves the cultivation–through cognitive therapy–of a certain healthy quality in the mind, which we can train ourselves to mindfully experience as well-being and as existential pleasure.
According to PD20, the body is not able to discern the limits of pain, of pleasure, of time, and so on: only the mind has this rational capacity, and without having deep insight into these things, it is impossible to experience pure pleasure and ataraxia. The mind also has the power to dismiss fears about the future and to abide in confident expectation that the natural and necessary things are easy to acquire.
Because only the mind has the power to carry out these rational and computational tasks, it is therefore responsible for procuring “a complete and perfect life”. Epicurus always treats it as a self-evident truth that it is in our nature to want this kind of life. He refuses to rationalize why this is so, and simply observes that we shun pain, and that when we lack happiness, we do whatever is in our power to regain it.
In its fiat to “procure a complete a perfect life”, the mind must grasp the natural limits of pain, of pleasure, of desires, and the limits of time, and it can then abide in contentness and gratitude. Because the things that are natural and necessary are few and limited, the mind can then confidently expect to meet its needs without “any need of things which involve struggle”.
This mind does not need immortality. It understands that pain and pleasure in the body have their limits in time and intensity, and avoids the trap of endlessly fearing the pains or endlessly catering to vain desires, which lead to addiction and anxiety. It understands that needful things are few and easy to acquire and that therefore we only need a limited amount of effort and struggle to attain them–in this way, the mind “banishes the terrors of the future”.
In Epicurus, the key is cognitive therapy in order to recognize our natural limits and to have deep insight about them and about our nature. This is what empowers the mind to procure “a complete and perfect life”.