Epicurus (341 - 270BC)
Founder of the philosophical view of Hedonism (termed the ethic of the pigsty), Hedonistic philosophy taught that pleasure was the highest good of man. The pursuit of pleasure was man's chief goal. Pleasure was good and pain was evil. Epicurus rejected Aristotle's golden mean of doing nothing to excess. He said that religion is the chief curse of the human race. He was not really saying that he did not believe in the gods, but he said that the gods had no interest in the human race. Epicurus could also have been a founder of the evolutionary theory. He said that humans were a conglomeration of atoms that came together by chance.
Hedonism is a religion of selfishness. Whatever makes one happy, then do it, regardless of its effect on others. If it makes the individual feel good, then it's all right.
The founder of Stoicism, Zeno founded a school that lasted from 294 to 200AD. It was still in evidence during the time of Jesus and is mentioned in the book of Acts. Their teachings were exactly the opposite of those of Epicurus. The Stoics taught the highest end is self-denial. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.... Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? others said, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. [Acts 17:15-16, 18]
The proponents of the teachings of Zeno taught that the highest goal was to be completely passionless and without feeling, i.e., to feel nothing. Joy, happiness, grief, pain, etc. would have no effect on the wise man. They believed that only two things were real -- fate and providence. Everything that happened was the will of God so all that a man could do was assent to God's will. To show emotion, i.e., grief, joy, etc. was to be diseased. To arrive at the state which was the Studies in Christian Ethics – Page 6
standard for the Stoic, one had to practice asceticism, resign oneself to fate and become completely emotionless
Christian Ethics (as taught by Jesus and the apostles)
The apostles taught that Christianity is not a philosophy but a religion, i.e., the worship of the person Jesus Christ, and is based on principles collected in the Sermon on the Mount. Christianity taught that its principles did not apply just to the educated, but to all people. In fact, Christianity teaches that God chooses the foolish.
By the fourth century AD, Constantine had brought many unregenerate into the church. Churches became ritualistic as paganism came into the church. It was about this time that monasticism was born. Some early Christians who influenced Christianity and Christian doctrine: 1. Augustin of Hippo (354 - 430AD)
Augustin was the first to systematize Christian ethics. Although he had a lot of good things to say, he also had a lot of bad things to say as well. He was greatly influenced by Greek philosophy and tried to Christianize some of Plato's teachings. He taught there were seven cardinal virtues, i.e., the four taught by Plato, which were temperance, courage, justice and wisdom, plus three of the apostle Paul's which were faith, hope and love. His philosophy prevailed in the church until the time of the Middle Ages.
2. Scholasticism (School Men)
This group founded schools and universities of higher learning. They were theologians who tried to harmonize faith and reason and attempted to make a philosophy out of Christianity. Some of the more prominent of this group were Anselm, Abelard, Thomas Aquinas (the father of Roman Catholic theology), who was influenced by the teachings of Aristotle. 3. Mysticism
Please join StudyMode to read the full document