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Ideas of Epicurus, by Text

[Greek, 341 - 271 BCE, Born on Samos. Taught by Nausiphanes. Founded own school, at 'The Garden', near the Academy in Athens. Died in Athens.]

293BCE Letter to Herodotus
38 p.6 If we are to use words in enquiry, we need their main, unambiguous and uncontested meanings
38 p.6 Nothing comes to be from what doesn't exist
39 p.6 If disappearing things went to nothingness, nothing could return, and it would all be gone by now
39 p.6 The totality is complete, so there is no room for it to change, and nothing extraneous to change it
40 p.6 Space must exist, since movement is obvious, and there must be somewhere to move in
41 p.7 Totality has no edge; an edge implies a contrast beyond the edge, and there can't be one
42 p.7 Bodies are unlimited as well as void, since the two necessarily go together
42 p.7 There exists an infinity of each shape of atom, but the number of shapes is beyond our knowledge
44 schol p.8 Atoms just have shape, size and weight; colour results from their arrangement
45 p.8 There are endless cosmoi, some like and some unlike this one
47-53 p.347 Illusions are not false perceptions, as we accurately perceive the pattern of atoms [Modrak]
54 p.10 Atoms only have shape, weight and size, and the properties which accompany shape
56 p.11 There cannot be unlimited division, because it would reduce things to non-existence
60 p.12 Above and below us will never appear to be the same, because it is inconceivable
62 p.13 Observation and applied thought are always true
63 p.13 The soul is fine parts distributed through the body, resembling hot breath
67 p.14 The void cannot interact, but just gives the possibility of motion
67 p.14 The soul cannot be incorporeal, because then it could neither act nor be acted upon
68 p.14 The perceived accidental properties of bodies cannot be conceived of as independent natures
69 p.14 Accidental properties give a body its nature, but are not themselves bodies or parts of bodies
69 p.14 A 'body' is a conception of an aggregate, with properties defined by application conditions
70 p.15 Bodies have impermanent properties, and permanent ones which define its conceived nature
76 p.17 Astronomical movements are blessed, but they don't need the help of the gods
78 p.17 We aim to know the natures which are observed in natural phenomena
82 p.18 We aim to dissolve our fears, by understanding their causes
292BCE Letter to Pythocles
p.459 God does not intervene in heavenly movements, but is beyond all action and perfectly happy
88 p.20 A cosmos is a collection of stars and an earth, with some sort of boundary, movement and shape
94 p.22 We should accept as explanations all the plausible ways in which something could come about
291BCE Letter to Menoeceus
122 p.28 Begin philosophy when you are young, and keep going when you are old
125 p.29 Fearing death is absurd, because we are not present when it occurs
125 p.29 It is absurd to fear the pain of death when you are not even facing it
126 p.29 The wisdom that produces a good life also produces a good death
128 p.30 Pleasure is the first good in life
128 p.30 We only need pleasure when we have the pain of desire
129 p.30 All pleasures are good, but it is not always right to choose them
131 p.30 Pleasure is the goal, but as lack of pain and calm mind, not as depraved or greedy pleasure
131 p.471 True pleasure is not debauchery, but freedom from physical and mental pain
132 p.31 The best life is not sensuality, but rational choice and healthy opinion
132 p.31 Prudence is the greatest good, and more valuable than philosophy, because it produces virtue
132 p.471 Prudence is more valuable than philosophy, because it avoids confusions of the soul
133 p.31 Our own choices are autonomous, and the basis for praise and blame
133 p.472 We should not refer things to irresponsible necessity, but either to fortune or to our own will
134 p.31 Sooner follow mythology, than accept the 'fate' of natural philosophers
135 p.31 Sooner a good decision going wrong, than a bad one turning out for the good
290BCE Principle Doctrines ('Kuriai Doxai') (frags)
p.89 Bodies are combinations of shape, size, resistance and weight
15 p.36 We value our own character, whatever it is, and we should respect the characters of others
27 p.37 In the study of philosophy, pleasure and knowledge arrive simultaneously
31 p.35 Justice is a pledge of mutual protection
32 p.38 It is a great good to show reverence for a wise man
33 p.294 Justice is merely a contract about not harming or being harmed
37 p.35 A law is not just if it is not useful in mutual associations
38 p.38 It is small-minded to find many good reasons for suicide
40 p.38 If everything is by necessity, then even denials of necessity are by necessity
5 p.340 Pleasure and virtue entail one another
71 p.40 What happens to me if I obtain all my desires, and what if I fail?
289BCE fragments/reports
p.35 Epicurus accepted God in his popular works, but not in his writings on nature [Sext.Empiricus]
p.46 Slavery to philosophy brings true freedom
p.48 It was Epicurus who made the question of the will's freedom central to ethics [Grayling]
p.62 Soul is made of four stuffs, giving warmth, rest, motion and perception [Aetius]
p.81 We should come to philosophy free from any taint of culture
p.87 Epicurus saw that gods must exist, because nature has imprinted them on human minds [Cicero]
p.89 Only Epicurus denied purpose in nature, for the whole world, or for its parts [Annas]
p.92 Stoics say time is incorporeal and self-sufficient; Epicurus says it is a property of properties of things
p.94 The rational soul is in the chest, and the non-rational soul is spread through the body
p.96 For Epicureans gods are made of atoms, and are not eternal [Cicero]
p.98 If god answered prayers we would be destroyed, because we pray for others to suffer
p.104 Some say Epicurus only pretended to believe in the gods, so as not to offend Athenians [Cicero]
p.107 Epicurus was the first to see the free will problem, and he was a libertarian [Long/Sedley]
p.109 Democritus says atoms have size and shape, and Epicurus added weight [Ps-Plutarch]
p.188 The end for Epicurus is static pleasure [Annas]
p.201 If two people disagree over taste, who is right? [Plutarch]
p.201 Bath water is too hot for some, too cold for others [Plutarch]
p.203 We should say nothing of the whole if our contact is with the parts [Plutarch]
p.209 When entering a dark room it is colourless, but colour gradually appears
p.217 Epicurus rejected excluded middle, because accepting it for events is fatalistic [Cicero]
p.219 Atoms don't swerve by being struck, because they move in parallel, so the swerve is uncaused [Cicero]
p.235 Epicureans say disjunctions can be true whiile the disjuncts are not true [Cicero]
p.243 What causes atomic swerves? Do they draw lots? What decides the size or number of swerves? [Cicero]
p.252 How can pleasure or judgement occur in a heap of atoms? [Sext.Empiricus]
p.310 Epicurus denied knowledge in order to retain morality or hedonism as the highest values [Nietzsche]
p.340 Fine things are worthless if they give no pleasure
p.435 Sensations cannot be judged, because similar sensations have equal value, and different ones have nothing in common [Diog. Laertius]
p.435 The criteria of truth are senses, preconceptions and passions [Diog. Laertius]
p.435 Reason can't judge senses, as it is based on them [Diog. Laertius]
p.436 To name something, you must already have an idea of what it is [Diog. Laertius]
p.436 We can't seek for things if we have no idea of them [Diog. Laertius]
p.459 Epicurus showed that the swerve can give free motion in the atoms [Diogenes of Oen.]
p.465 Philosophy aims at a happy life, through argument and discussion
p.466 A wise man would be happy even under torture [Diog. Laertius]
p.467 Wise men should partake of life even if they go blind [Diog. Laertius]
p.473 We choose virtue because of pleasure, not for its own sake [Diog. Laertius]
p.473 Pains of the soul are worse than pains of the body, because it feels the past and future [Diog. Laertius]
p.473 Pleasure is the chief good because it is the most natural, especially for animals [Diog. Laertius]
p.475 Pleasures only differ in their duration and the part of the body affected
p.477 Friendship is by far the most important ingredient of a complete and happy life
p.478 Justice has no independent existence, but arises entirely from keeping contracts
p.567 Epicurus says if one of a man's senses ever lies, none of his senses should ever be believed [Cicero]
p.591 Epicurus despises and laughs at the whole of dialectic [Cicero]
9 p.36 There is no necessity to live with necessity
fr 221 p.78 The aim of medicine is removal of sickness, and philosophy similarly removes our affections
Fr 30 p.207 Epicurus says colours are relative to the eye, not intrinsic to bodies [Plutarch]