Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Epicurean Philosophy group had an interesting conversation about gratitude, and I felt it would be helpful to students of Epicurus if I shared some of the quotes and comments from it.
I think it’s pretty clear that gratitude fits easily into the overall scheme of doing what it takes to live happily. Normal people don’t do things for other people unless the people we do them for show some degree of gratitude for what we do. So gratitude is a reinforcing behavior that is necessary if we’re going to be as successful as possible in our dealing with other people and their dealings with us. Just like any other “virtue” the goal of gratitude and any other activity is to live happily. And in addition to the examples mentioned, there are other examples – especially the devotion (gratitude) that Epicurus showed toward his mother. – Cassius, from New Epicurean
He alone will feel gratitude towards friends, present and absent alike, and show it by word and deed. – Epicurus, concerning the wise man in Laertius 117
Praise be to blessed Nature: she has made what is necessary easy to get, and what is not easy to get unnecessary. – Epicurean Fragment 469, Monadnock translation
The thankless nature of the soul makes the creature endlessly greedy for variations in its lifestyle. – Vatican Saying 69
Gratitude is necessary to internalize Epicurean doctrine, and in fact a person who is ungrateful ***can_not_profit*** from this teaching. Gratitude is a basic human value that serves to help us fully accept the natural limits of our desires and pleasures, which is essential to Epicurean ethics and to our ability to live a life of pleasure.