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Principal Doctrines Epicurus


	The "Principal Doctrines" (also sometimes translated under the
	title "Sovran Maxims") are a collection of forty quotes from
	the writings of Epicurus that serve as a handy summary of his
	ethical theory:

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	1. A blessed and indestructible being has no trouble himself
	and brings no trouble upon any other being; so he is free from
	anger and partiality, for all such things imply weakness.

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	2. Death is nothing to us; for that which has been dissolved
	into its elements experiences no sensations, and that which has
	no sensation is nothing to us.

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

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	4. Continuous bodily pain does not last long; instead, pain,
	if extreme, is present a very short time, and even that degree
	of pain which slightly exceeds bodily pleasure does not last for
	many days at once. Diseases of long duration allow an excess of
	bodily pleasure over pain.

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

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	6. In order to obtain protection from other men, any means for
	attaining this end is a natural good.

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	7. Some men want fame and status, thinking that they would thus
	make themselves secure against other men. If the life of such
	men really were secure, they have attained a natural good; if,
	however, it is insecure, they have not attained the end which
	by nature's own prompting they originally sought.

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	8. No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which
	produce certain pleasures entail disturbances many times greater
	than the pleasures themselves.

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	9. If every pleasure had been capable of accumulation, not only
	over time but also over the entire body or at least over the
	principal parts of our nature, then pleasures would never differ
	from one another.

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	10. If the things that produce the pleasures of profligate men
	really freed them from fears of the mind concerning celestial and
	atmospheric phenomena, the fear of death, and 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 from every source and would never
	have pain of body or mind, which is what is bad.

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	11. If we had never been troubled by celestial and atmospheric
	phenomena, nor by fears about death, nor by our ignorance of
	the limits of pains and desires, we should have had no need of
	natural science.

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	12. It is impossible for someone to dispel his fears about the
	most important matters if he doesn't know the nature of the
	universe but still gives some credence to myths. So without the
	study of nature there is no enjoyment of pure pleasure.

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	13. There is no advantage to obtaining protection from other men
	so long as we are alarmed by events above or below the earth or
	in general by whatever happens in the boundless universe.

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	14. Protection from other men, secured to some extent by the
	power to expel and by material prosperity, in its purest form
	comes from a quiet life withdrawn from the multitude.

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	15. The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to
	procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to
	infinity.

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	16. Chance seldom interferes with the wise man; his greatest
	and highest interests have been, are, and will be, directed by
	reason throughout his whole life.

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	17. The just man is most free from disturbance, while the unjust
	is full of the utmost disturbance.

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	18. Bodily pleasure does not increase when the pain of want has
	been removed; after that it only admits of variation. The limit
	of mental pleasure, however, is reached when we reflect on these
	bodily pleasures and their related emotions, which used to cause
	the mind the greatest alarms.

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

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	20. The flesh receives as unlimited the limits of pleasure; and to
	provide it requires unlimited time. But the mind, intellectually
	grasping what the end and limit of the flesh is, and banishing
	the terrors of the future, procures a complete and perfect life,
	and we have no longer any need of unlimited time. Nevertheless
	the mind does not shun pleasure, and even when circumstances make
	death imminent, the mind does not lack enjoyment of the best life.

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	21. He who understands the limits of life knows that it is easy
	to obtain that which removes the pain of want and makes the
	whole of life complete and perfect. Thus he has no longer any
	need of things which involve struggle.

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	22. We must consider both the ultimate end and all clear sensory
	evidence, to which we refer our opinions; for otherwise everything
	will be full of uncertainty and confusion.

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	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 sensations which you claim are false.

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	24. If you reject absolutely any single sensation without stopping
	to distinguish between opinion about things awaiting confirmation
	and that which is already confirmed to be present, whether in
	sensation or in feelings or in any application of intellect to
	the presentations, you will confuse the rest of your sensations
	by your groundless opinion and so you will reject every standard
	of truth. 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 avoid error, as you will be maintaining the
	entire basis for doubt in every judgment between correct and
	incorrect opinion.

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

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	26. All desires that do not lead to pain when they remain
	unsatisfied are unnecessary, but the desire is easily got rid
	of, when the thing desired is difficult to obtain or the desires
	seem likely to produce harm.

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	27. Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness
	throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is
	friendship.

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	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 in the limited evils of this life nothing enhances
	our security so much as friendship.

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

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	30. Those natural desires which entail no pain when unsatisfied,
	though pursued with an intense effort, are also due to groundless
	opinion; and it is not because of their own nature they are not
	got rid of but because of man's groundless opinions.

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	31. Natural justice is a pledge of reciprocal benefit, to prevent
	one man from harming or being harmed by another.

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	32. Those animals which are incapable of making binding agreements
	with one another not to inflict nor suffer harm are without either
	justice or injustice; and likewise for those peoples who either
	could not or would not form binding agreements not to inflict
	nor suffer harm.

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	33. There never was such a thing as absolute justice, but only
	agreements made in mutual dealings among men in whatever places
	at various times providing against the infliction or suffering
	of harm.

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	34. Injustice is not an evil in itself, but only in consequence
	of the fear which is associated with the apprehension of being
	discovered by those appointed to punish such actions.

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	35. It is impossible for a man who secretly violates the terms
	of the agreement not to harm or be harmed to feel confident that
	he will remain undiscovered, even if he has already escaped ten
	thousand times; for until his death he is never sure that he
	will not be detected.

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	36. In general justice is the same for all, for it is
	something found mutually beneficial in men's dealings, but in
	its application to particular places or other circumstances the
	same thing is not necessarily just for everyone.

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	37. Among the things held to be just by law, whatever is proved
	to be of advantage in men's dealings has the stamp of justice,
	whether or not it be the same for all; but if a man makes a law
	and it does not prove to be mutually advantageous, then this is no
	longer just. And if what is mutually advantageous varies and only
	for a time corresponds to our concept of justice, nevertheless
	for that time it is just for those who do not trouble themselves
	about empty words, but look simply at the facts.

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	38. Where without any change in circumstances the things held
	to be just by law are seen not to correspond with the concept
	of justice in actual practice, such laws are not really just;
	but wherever the laws have ceased to be advantageous because of
	a change in circumstances, in that case the laws were for that
	time just when they were advantageous for the mutual dealings
	of the citizens, and subsequently ceased to be just when they
	were no longer advantageous.

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	39. The man who best knows how to meet external threats makes
	into one family all the creatures he can; and those he can not,
	he at any rate does not treat as aliens; and where he finds
	even this impossible, he avoids all dealings, and, so far as is
	advantageous, excludes them from his life.

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	40. Those who possess the power to defend themselves against
	threats by their neighbors, being thus in possession of the
	surest guarantee of security, live the most pleasant life with
	one another; and their enjoyment of the fullest intimacy is such
	that if one of them dies prematurely, the others do not lament
	his death as though it called for pity.