The concept of ataraxia is used in philosophy to refer to a calm and serene mood. Various philosophical currents defend ataraxia as the mental disposition that leads the person to move away from disturbances to achieve happiness.
According to Digopaul, ataraxia requires regulating passions and being strong enough in the face of adversity to lead a balanced and placid life. This calm is achieved when the individual manages to avoid unnecessary pleasures, which cause intense pain after the initial satisfaction.
The Epicurean, for example, distinguished between the pleasures natural and necessary (linked to subsistence); the pleasures that, despite being natural, are unnecessary (since they involve superficial alterations of the necessary pleasures); and the pleasures that are neither natural nor necessary (arising out of ego or ambition). Ataraxia as a way to happiness requires only obeying the first type of pleasures (the natural and necessary ones), discarding the rest.
According to the view of skeptics, ataraxia is achieved by suspending judgment on things. When a person does not believe in anything, he avoids conflicts and makes his mood calm.
The Stoics, for their part, believed that ataraxia was a consequence of a life governed by virtue and reason. Stoicism was the last major school of philosophy, and it existed until 529 AD. C., when the School of Athens was closed by the Emperor Justiniano. Also Buddhism promotes ataraxia, holding that the absence of desire avoids pain.
Ataraxia, on the other hand, is the name of a comic, a song by the Chilean group Dr. Vena and an Italian gothic band.
From a physical point of view, medicine calls ataraxia a condition that can appear as a result of having received a strong blow to the front of the head or having suffered a stroke (a morbid access that occurs violently and suddenly; some examples are “epileptic stroke” and “apoplectic”).
It is curious that while philosophy presents the concept as a method to achieve happiness and fulfillment, medicine uses the same term to give a name to a health problem. In both cases, the word imperturbable seems to be key, either because of having achieved absolute serenity or because of the lack of response to external stimuli.
For Greek philosophy, ataraxia is synonymous with imperturbability, a state of the soul and mind that does not allow the entrance of suffering or disturbing emotions, such as anger.
In the case of ataraxia caused by a stroke, medicine explains that patients do not know or accept limits and norms, since they lose that capacity and act in a way that does not take into account the consequences. Of course, this does not come alone: often those affected by ataraxia are haunted by feelings of guilt because of their actions.
Although ataraxia as a result of trauma leads to the impossibility of feeling frustration, there is a very particular contradiction, since there is room for nervousness and anxiety, and not for joy and spontaneity.
Returning to ataraxia in the philosophical sense, the Greeks considered it a spiritual goal to reach a state of passivity and apathy that would allow them to live in absolute calm. To do this, as mentioned above, it is necessary to avoid both actions and feelings, at least everything that can disturb us and make us lose concentration on our goal.