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The Epicurean view of death is as simple as it is undeniable: it is naturally impossible to experience one's own death. Since we experience life and the world around us through our senses, and the senses cease to function at the moment we die, we obviously cannot experience our own death; hence the Epicurean motto "Death is nothing to us". Epicurus' revisionary understanding of death is outlined in his Principal Doctrine 2.

Epicurus' observation that death cannot be experienced by the person dying must not be confused with (most) religious thinkers' claim that death somehow does not exist, or that it can somehow be avoided or reversed. Epicurus' point is narrower, more specific, and for that reason far more credible: death does of course exist, and it is both inevitable and irreversible; it is, however, nothing we can experience first-hand.

The Epicurean view of death is a crucial component of the pursuit of ataraxia, a state free of anxiety (literally "non-disturbance"). Although we cannot experience our own death, we can (and often do) dread it; we certainly can, and do experience the death of others, often loved ones; finally, the arts paint a vivid, and often horrid image of death.

From these observations stem Epicurus' admonition (included in the Tetrapharmakos, or Four-Part Cure) that we simply cease to fear death, this fear being the pangs of death, not death itself; his recommendation that we celebrate our loved ones' lives upon their passing, as opposed to mourning their demise; and his mistrust of the arts in general, not because they lack in beauty, but because they give people impressions that, while poetic, also wildly misrepresent reality.

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