Principal Doctrine 10

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If the things which debauched men find pleasurable put an end to all fears (such as concerns about the heavenly bodies, death, and pain) and if they revealed how we ought to limit our desires, we would have no reason to reproach them, for they would be fulfilled with pleasures from every source while experiencing no pain, neither in mind nor body, which is the chief evil of life.


In yet another negative hypothesis, Epicurus suggests that debauchery does not lead to true happiness.

If, Epicurus argues, what produced the extravagant pleasures of profligate men also dispelled all those fears about celestial phenomena, death, and pain that plague the mind, then one would have nothing to hold against that sort of lifestyle; if that were true, such people would live a life full of pleasures, and void of either pain or sadness -- which are, after all, what really counts as "bad." If that were so, such men and such a lifestyle would only merit admiration, not reproach.

Yet reproach is what is dealt them, not admiration. The rather transparent implication is that it is meaningless to seek extravagant pleasures, if one still continues to suffer from irrational fears and anxieties. The implicit counter-suggestion Epicurus makes his students and followers is that, since the real evil is indeed those fears, they absolutely must be dispelled for true pleasure to be experienced. Instead of an extravagant lifestyle, counterargues Epicurus, what one really needs is the "study of nature" in order to dispel such fears and thus be truly happy (Cf. Principal Doctrine 11 and Principal Doctrine 12).

Hand in hand with advocating the need to dispel irrational fears, Epicurus marshals in his virtually omnipresent tangent of "knowing the limits of desires"; obviously, the debauched lifestyle is glaringly lacking in restraint, and flaunts ignorance of (or outright disregard for) those very limits. It is thus presented as doubly flawed, as a lifestyle where ignorance leads not to bliss, but to discontent.

By this Doctrine, Epicurus sharply differentiates his philosophical position from that of the Cyrenaic hedonists; he also defends himself against the accusation levied at him by rival philosophers, i.e. that he encouraged (or even practiced) debauchery.

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