Principal Doctrine 1

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A blessed and imperishable being neither has trouble itself nor does it cause trouble for anyone else; therefore, it does not experience feelings of anger or indebtedness, for such feelings signify weakness.


  • The word makarion is usually (and correctly, if also approximately) translated to "blessed"; whereas the English word, however, is properly the object of an implicit transitive verb (e.g. Subject A, presumably god, blesses Object B), the Greek word is void of any such meaning whatsoever. One is makarios when one is in a state of perfectly unperturbed contentment; there is no "second party", or "acting agent" who confers this state. Quite aptly, the state of makariotes is effectively ataraxia.
  • The adjective aphtharton means indestructible, imperishable. Refining the process of "destruction" yet further, Epicurus uses a derivative of the verb phtheirein, which means literally "to wear", to gradually diminish and destroy something. Aphtharton, therefore, is something that is not subject to natural wear and tear, that does not waste away with time and exposure to the elements. The perfect opposite of this divine state of aphtharsia is the one described at length by Lucretius, the process by which all non-divine, living beings, and all material things in general lose parts of themselves, in an incessant process of "atomic wear".
  • Pragmata literally means "doings", "actions", "affairs", by extension troublesome ones. The expression found in this Doctrine is a standard, Hellenic colloquialism: literally, it means "to provide doings"; colloquially, to cause trouble. Epicurus' point is that the gods are not at all like the busybody (Gr. polypragmon) God of the Stoics, whom the Epicureans (or Epicurean-minded critics) frequently doubted and ridiculed; they are not busy running the everyday operations of the world, as that would keep them frantically busy, and thus not at all makarioi; nor do they meddle in people's pragmata, making human business their own, either doing or receiving favors, or experiencing anger. Epicurus believed that such behavior would be a sign of (moral) weakness, and thus unworthy of the gods. Therefore, unlike the Abrahamic God who is considered ex definitio both benevolent and omnipotent, and is consequently exposed to criticism over all the very real ills of the world, the Epicurean gods are understood instead as unengaged in such matters altogether, and consequently unsullied by whatever might be wrong with the world.
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