Principal Doctrine 25

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If you do not reconcile your behavior with the goal of nature, but instead use some other criterion in matters of choice and avoidance, then there will be a conflict between theory and practice.


This, somewhat ambiguous Doctrine, can perhaps be understood as a "preamble" of sorts for Epicurus' "doctrine on the desires", outlined in Principal Doctrine 26, Principal Doctrine 29, and Principal Doctrine 30. The verbatim reference to the title of Epicurus' lost "On Choices and Avoidances" may indicate that this Doctrine was meant as some sort of mental link to that other, far longer work.

Epicurus admonishes that one should, on all occasions, refer one's actions to the "goal of nature", or the "natural goal"; this must be the very same thing he termed the "underlying goal" that opens Principal Doctrine 22. Otherwise, i.e. if one rushes to make those crucial choices (and their opposite, corresponding avoidances) based on anything else but that "natural goal", one's actions will not be in accordance with one's words, i.e. one will not have practiced what he professed.

The character of this Doctrine is rather one of a reminder: the "words", with which one's actions much be aligned, are not made plain in this brief text. The "natural goal" is left as commonly understood, and needing no elaboration.

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