Principal Doctrine 26

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All desires which create no pain when unfulfilled are not necessary; such desires may easily be dispelled when they are seen as difficult to fulfill or likely to produce harm.


This Doctrine outlines the attributes shared by an entire, large class of desires:

  • They do not lead to pain if they are not fulfilled.
  • They are therefore not necessary.
  • Instead, the "appetite", the craving that drives these desires can easily be dispelled
  • when it appears (to the rational subject contemplating choice and avoidance) that it would either be difficult to satisfy such desires, or that satisfying them would cause one harm.

This Doctrine draws the first line of differentiation between necessary and unnecessary desires. Epicurus further refines and defines his teaching on the desires with the distinction he makes between natural and unnatural ones, as outlined in Principal Doctrine 29.

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