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Principal Doctrines
By Epicurus

Translated by Robert Drew Hicks

1. A happy and eternal being has no trouble himself and brings no
trouble upon any other being; hence he is exempt from movements of
anger and partiality, for every such movement implies weakness

2. Death is nothing to us; for the body, when it has been resolved
into its elements, has no feeling, and that which has no feeling is
nothing to us. 

3. The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all
pain. When pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there
is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together.

4. Continuous pain does not last long in the body; on the contrary,
pain, if extreme, is present a short time, and even that degree of
pain which barely outweighs pleasure in the body does not last for
many days together. Illnesses of long duration even permit of an excess
of pleasure over pain in the body. 

5. It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely
and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well
and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is
lacking, when, for instance, the person is not able to live wisely,
though he lives well and justly, it is impossible for him to live
a pleasant life. 

6. In order to obtain security from other people any means whatever
of procuring this was a natural good. 

7. Some people have sought to become famous and renowned, thinking
that thus they would make themselves secure against their fellow-humans.
If, then, the life of such persons really was secure, they attained
natural good; if, however, it was insecure, they have not attained
the end which by nature's own prompting they originally sought.

8. No pleasure is in itself evil, but the things which produce certain
pleasures entail annoyances many times greater than the pleasures

9. If all pleasure had been capable of accumulation, -- if this had
gone on not only be recurrences in time, but all over the frame or,
at any rate, over the principal parts of human nature, there would
never have been any difference between one pleasure and another, as
in fact there is. 

10. If the objects which are productive of pleasures to profligate
persons really freed them from fears of the mind, -- the fears, I
mean, inspired by celestial and atmospheric phenomena, the fear of
death, the fear of pain; if, further, they taught them to limit their
desires, we should never have any fault to find with such persons,
for they would then be filled with pleasures to overflowing on all
sides and would be exempt from all pain, whether of body or mind,
that is, from all evil. 

11. If we had never been molested by alarms at celestial and atmospheric
phenomena, nor by the misgiving that death somehow affects us, nor
by neglect of the proper limits of pains and desires, we should have
had no need to study natural science. 

12. It would be impossible to banish fear on matters of the highest
importance, if a person did not know the nature of the whole universe,
but lived in dread of what the legends tell us. Hence without the
study of nature there was no enjoyment of unmixed pleasures.

13. There would be no advantage in providing security against our
fellow humans, so long as we were alarmed by occurrences over our
heads or beneath the earth or in general by whatever happens in the
boundless universe. 

14. When tolerable security against our fellow humans is attained,
then on a basis of power sufficient to afford supports and of material
prosperity arises in most genuine form the security of a quiet private
life withdrawn from the multitude. 

15. Nature's wealth at once has its bounds and is easy to procure;
but the wealth of vain fancies recedes to an infinite distance.

16. Fortune but seldom interferes with the wise person; his greatest
and highest interests have been, are, and will be, directed by reason
throughout the course of his life. 

17. The just person enjoys. the greatest peace of mind, while the
unjust is full of the utmost disquietude. 

18. Pleasure in the body admits no increase when once the pain of
want has been removed; after that it only admits of variation. The
limit of pleasure in the mind, however, is reached when we reflect
on the things themselves and their congeners which cause the mind
the greatest alarms. 

19. Unlimited time and limited time afford an equal amount of pleasure,
if we measure the limits of that pleasure by reason. 

20. The body receives as unlimited the limits of pleasure; and to
provide it requires unlimited time. But the mind, grasping in thought
what the end and limit of the body is, and banishing the terrors of
futurity, procures a complete and perfect life, and has no longer
any need of unlimited time. Nevertheless it does not shun pleasure,
and even in the hour of death, when ushered out of existence by circumstances,
the mind does not lack enjoyment of the best life. 

21. He who understands the limits of life knows how easy it is to
procure enough to remove the pain of want and make the whole of life
complete and perfect. Hence he has no longer any need of things which
are not to be won save by labor and conflict. 

22. We must take into account as the end all that really exists and
all clear evidence of sense to which we refer our opinions; for otherwise
everything will be full of uncertainty and confusion. 

23. If you fight against all your sensations, you will have no standard
to which to refer, and thus no means of judging even those judgments
which you pronounce false. 

24. If you reject absolutely any single sensation without stopping
to discriminate with respect to that which awaits confirmation between
matter of opinion and that which is already present, whether in sensation
or in feelings or in any immediate perception of the mind, you will
throw into confusion even the rest of your sensations by your groundless
belief and so you will be rejecting the standard of truth altogether.
If in your ideas based upon opinion you hastily affirm as true all
that awaits confirmation as well as that which does not, you will
not escape error, as you will be maintaining complete ambiguity whenever
it is a case of judging between right and wrong opinion.

25. If you do not on every separate occasion refer each of your actions
to the end prescribed by nature, but instead of this in the act of
choice or avoidance swerve aside to some other end, your acts will
not be consistent with your theories. 

26. All such desires as lead to no pain when they remain ungratified
are unnecessary, and the longing is easily got rid of, when the thing
desired is difficult to procure or when the desires seem likely to
produce harm. 

27. Of all the means which are procured by wisdom to ensure happiness
throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is the acquisition
of friends. 

28. The same conviction which inspires confidence that nothing we
have to fear is eternal or even of long duration, also enables us
to see that even in our limited conditions of life nothing enhances
our security so much as friendship. 

29. Of our desires some are natural and necessary others are natural,
but not necessary; others, again, are neither natural nor necessary,
but are due to illusory opinion. 

30. Those natural desires which entail no pain when not gratified,
though their objects are vehemently pursued, are also due to illusory
opinion; and when they are not got rid of, it is not because of their
own nature, but because of the person's illusory opinion.

31. Natural justice is a symbol or expression of usefullness, to prevent
one person from harming or being harmed by another. 

32. Those animals which are incapable of making covenants with one
another, to the end that they may neither inflict nor suffer harm,
are without either justice or injustice. And those tribes which either
could not or would not form mutual covenants to the same end are in
like case. 

33. There never was an absolute justice, but only an agreement made
in reciprocal association in whatever localities now and again from
time to time, providing against the infliction or suffering of harm.

34. Injustice is not in itself an evil, but only in its consequence,
viz. the terror which is excited by apprehension that those appointed
to punish such offenses will discover the injustice. 

35. It is impossible for the person who secretly violates any article
of the social compact to feel confident that he will remain undiscovered,
even if he has already escaped ten thousand times; for right on to
the end of his life he is never sure he will not be detected.

36. Taken generally, justice is the same for all, to wit, something
found useful in mutual association; but in its application to particular
cases of locality or conditions of whatever kind, it varies under
different circumstances. 

37. Among the things accounted just by conventional law, whatever
in the needs of mutual association is attested to be useful, is thereby
stamped as just, whether or not it be the same for all; and in case
any law is made and does not prove suitable to the usefulness of mutual
association, then this is no longer just. And should the usefulness
which is expressed by the law vary and only for a time correspond
with the prior conception, nevertheless for the time being it was
just, so long as we do not trouble ourselves about empty words, but
look simply at the facts. 

38. Where without any change in circumstances the conventional laws,
when judged by their consequences, were seen not to correspond with
the notion of justice, such laws were not really just; but wherever
the laws have ceased to be useful in consequence of a change in circumstances,
in that case the laws were for the time being just when they were
useful for the mutual association of the citizens, and subsequently
ceased to be just when they ceased to be useful. 

39. He who best knew how to meet fear of external foes made into one
family all the creatures he could; and those he could not, he at any
rate did not treat as aliens; and where he found even this impossible,
he avoided all association, and, so far as was useful, kept them at
a distance. 

40. Those who were best able to provide themselves with the means
of security against their neighbors, being thus in possession of the
surest guarantee, passed the most agreeable life in each other's society;
and their enjoyment of the fullest intimacy was such that, if one
of them died before his time, the survivors did not mourn his death
as if it called for sympathy. 



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