Thursday, August 08, 2013

Live Unnoticed

We learn about it from Plutarch, who tells us that Epicurus was famous for the maxim "live unnoticed"...To "live unnoticed" means to live a completely private life, with no involvement, beyond what might be obligatory for all citizens, in the public life of one's community or country, and also with no ambitions for making a mark in any other public realm — in any of the arts or professions, for example.

...It seems obvious that the more exposed one's life is to the attentions of the public, and, in general, to those of any wide circle of nonintimates, the more one risks one runs of potential harmful interference from them. The general run of people are more inclined to envy and ingratitude than honoring honest good service, or simply reciprocating favors...

Thus for Epicurus the default position is to live a life of devotion to one's private affairs, letting public and political interests take care of themselves, or rather letting them get taken care of by those foolish enough to go in for such things. The hope is that by keeping out of the limelight one can live happily, in peace and quiet, surrounded, and both protected and advanced in one's pursuit of pleasure, by one's family, and by a circle of intimate, like-minded friends.