Epicureanism – the main beliefs

From time to time I post a short list of the main teachings of Epicurus:

1. The “Summum Bonum” or “Reason for Living” is happiness or pleasure. Happiness is peace of mind and body. It is tranquillity or undisturbedness (ataraxia), the quiet of a mind free from fear (or anxiety) and a body content with natural satisfactions.

2. Mental pleasure is better than bodily pleasure.

3. Mental pain (anxiety) is worse than bodily pain.

4. Quality of pleasure is more important than quantity of pleasure.

5. Fear causes mental disturbance.

6. Do not fear the gods: They do not concern themselves with human problems; nor do they reward or punish.

7. Do not fear death: Life is feeling or sensation; when life ends, there is no feeling (no pain); death does not hurt.

8. Do not fear physical nature: Nature is indifferent; the universe is but the motion and the mingling of atoms.

9. Exercise prudence: Although every pleasure in itself is good and every pain is evil, some pains should be endured for the sake of future pleasure and some pleasures should be forgone since they may lead to future pain.

10. Live simply and prudently (with self-control and moderation). Seek simple pleasures, those that satisfy natural and necessary desires. By nature we need food, drink, clothing, shelter, prudence (reason), and friendship.

11. Seeking luxuries (extravagant food, excessive drink, sexual love, and the like) creates anxiety in our minds and disturbance in our bodies.

12. Avoid excess of all kinds; simple pleasures (with a gentle motion of atoms) are preferable to painful excesses (with a violent motion of atoms).

13. Make friends: They provide security and pleasant conversation.

14. Avoid disturbing people. Stay in the Garden with your friends.

15. Make agreements with others (laws), so that you will not disturb one another.

16. There is no right or wrong (justice or injustice) outside of these agreements. Agreements (and justice therefore) differ from community to community. [cultural relativism]

17. Live justly (obey the laws), so that you will not have the anxiety of wondering if you will be caught and punished.

18. When you are old, think about the good times you have had. That will make up for bodily pain.

19. When you are young, think about the good that lies ahead. Do not fear the future. We can control some things, but we cannot control everything.

20. Dread (anxiety or fear) is worse than present bodily suffering. Present suffering soon passes; anxiety lasts a long time.

21. When enough security against other people is achieved, if one has enough power and material wealth as a base, then one can have the safety of a quiet life in solitude apart from the crowd.

(Compiled by Gordon L. Ziniewicz from Principal Doctrines, XIV)

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