Principal Doctrine 14

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Supreme power and great wealth may, to some degree, protect us from other men; but security in general depends upon peace of mind and social detachment.


  • The first clause of this Doctrine is structured in the genitive conditional, which is akin to such phrases as "that being the case..." in standard English syntax. Normally, if the following clause affirms the hypothesis, the first clause should begin with "since"; if it negates it, with "although". The Doctrine reads literally, "Safety from other people being made of (i.e. attained by)..." or, more naturally and meaningfully, "Although one can be to some extent safe from people by means of strength..."
  • The second clause seems to complement and, quite significantly, contradict the human behavior outlined in Principal Doctrine 6: while some people have sought to become powerful rulers and kings, or formidable orators able to defend themselves in the public arena, or wealthy men able to pay for protection, all for the sake of attaining personal safety, Epicurus recommends that the best way to attain that very same goal is by exactly the opposite strategy, i.e. by withdrawing from "the many", the crowds, and (he certainly must have meant) the body politic in general.
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