Principal Doctrine 2

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Death is nothing to us, because a body that has been dispersed into elements experiences no sensations, and the absence of sensation is nothing to us.


Epicurus was probably aware that this assertion would strike most people as harshly counterintuitive at first; perhaps this is why he made it with such stark, terse brevity.

The logic is soundly linear, the syntactical structure perfectly rounded, and based on familiar Epicurean tenets: Death is irrelevant to us. ("How so?" one might expectably ask.) It is so because upon death, the compound body that is a human and that exhibits the property of soul is dissolved into its elements, thus destroying all human attributes and leaving only the attributes of the constituent components.

Once this dissolution has happened, one cannot feel anything, as the senses have ceased their operations; and since all we know and all we feel enters our awareness through our senses, we (de facto) cannot experience anything of our own death; it is thus irrelevant to us.

Lucretius (De Rerum Natura, III 830) echoes the Epicurean tenet faithfully:

Nihil igitur mors est ad nos, neque pertinet hilum.

Cicero (De Finibus, II 31, 100) translates this Doctrine literally:

Mortem nihil ad nos pertinere; quod enim dissolutum sit id esse sine sensu, quod autem sine sensu sit id nihil ad nos pertinere omnino.

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