Date of Award

Spring 1958

Document Type




First Advisor

Rev. Gerald Lynam


Man has always tried to uncover the mystery of his existence, that Is, for what purpose was he created and how can he fulfill this purpose. Some of the earliest solutions are found In the teachings of the philosophers of ancient Greece. Most important among these are Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Zeno the Stoic, and Epicurus. Two schools of thought, the hedonism of Epicurus and the Stoicism of Zeno, are particularly interesting for they are in seeming contradiction, thus posing the question of how each contributes to the solution of the problem. For this reason, I have chosen to study them as the topic of this thesis.

Whenever the subject of man’s goal in life is presented, a consideration of the nature of virtue necessarily follows. Since the hedonists and Stoics maintained different views of man*s end, the very essence of their concepts of virtue had to also be different. Was it a means to an end, or an end In itself? Was virtue by its nature of positive value or worthless? Was it the greatest good, or an evil? Was It of universal application, or relative to time and circumstances? The two schools bring up these questions and attempt to answer them. Only through an evaluation of their doctrines can their accuracy be determined. This is the purpose of this thesis.

Included in

Philosophy Commons