Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Timothy O'Keefe

Second Advisor

Jessica N. Berry

Third Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen


According to Epicurus, philosophy’s sole task is to ensure the well-being of the soul. Human souls are often riddled with diseases; the most serious are the fear of the gods and the fear of death. Thus, the Epicureans offered several arguments designed to demonstrate that, for instance, “death is nothing to us,” and should therefore not be feared. Since their creation there has been much discussion, both in antiquity and by contemporary philosophers, about these arguments. In this thesis, I argue that Epicurean philosophical arguments are patient-relative; they necessarily adapt themselves so as to be therapeutically effective for their intended audience. The end result is that when we evaluate Epicurean philosophical arguments, we must do so in light of the audience for whom they were intended.