Principal Doctrine 12

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One cannot rid himself of his primal fears if he does not understand the nature of the universe but instead suspects the truth of some mythical story. So without the study of nature, there can be no enjoyment of pure pleasure.


This Doctrine presents yet another angle of Epicurus' central argument regarding the necessary correlation of physics, the "study of nature", and his hedonistic ethics. This impressive, overarching argument spans from the nature of the universe altogether, all the way to the pleasures of the individual human.

Phrased in Epicurus' customary negative form, this Doctrine argues that one cannot possibly dispel one's fears about the most basic, most primary matters -- presumably, Epicurus is hinting here at death, or fears of celestial phenomena, as he does elsewhere -- if one does not gain some insight in the workings of nature, and instead harbors all sorts of irrational suspicions, stoked by myths and legends.

Thus, concludes Epicurus, the study of nature is necessary, for without an understanding of nature, it is quite impossible to enjoy one's pleasures unsullied by fear.

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