Epicurus on the Self

Epicurus on the Self reconstructs a part of Epicurean ethics, which only survives on the fragmentary papyrus rolls excavated from an ancient library in Herculaneum, On Nature XXV. The aim of this book is to contribute to a deeper understanding of Epicurus’ moral psychology, ethics and of its robust epistemological framework and to show how the notion of the self emerges in Epicurus’ struggle to express the individual perspective of oneself in the process of one’s holistic self-reflection as an individual psychophysical being.

Attila Németh is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, currently looking for an academic position.

“Németh’s book is an original and valuable contribution to our understanding of Epicureanism, exploring Epicurus’ notion of the self in a comprehensive manner, throwing light on its many different aspects: physical, psychological, epistemic, moral, and spiritual. To my knowledge, this is the only published study to undertake and successfully accomplish such a broad task.”

– Voula Tsouna, University of California at Santa Barbara

“This monograph represents a very significant body of independent work, re-evaluating in a constructive and supportive spirit some central areas of Epicurean philosophy – notably self-cognition, agent autonomy and friendship – and displaying probable interconnections among those areas that have remained unnoticed or at least under-exploited in the existing scholarship. This is a considerable achievement. …Chapter 1’s bold reconstruction, from very fragmentary textual material that is rarely made accessible to readers, of an Epicurean theory of self-cognition breaks a good deal of new ground; and the novel approach to Epicurean friendship in chapter 5 is both philosophically and historically attractive. …What this monograph offers is a major new set of perspectives on current debates, able to reshape, challenge and enrich future discussions.”

– David Sedley, University of Cambridge

“The topic is a good one and Németh makes some interesting and important new claims, bringing together discussions of Epicurean moral psychology, ethical improvement and moral responsibility in a way that shows the integrated and holistic nature of the Epicurean system. …Németh makes good use of difficult evidence from Nat. XXV, perhaps for the first time showing what can be done with it beyond the well-worn topic of moral responsibility. …Németh also has interesting and often novel things to say about some other central questions in Epicureanism, such as the atomic swerve.”

– James Warren, University of Cambridge

Available in the Issues in Ancient Philosophy series, Routledge: