Principal Doctrine 27

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Of all things that wisdom provides for living one's entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.


This brief, epigrammatic, stand-alone Doctrine is the rara avis of Epicurean idealism, stating point-blank that, of all things that wisdom provides for the happiness of one's entire life, the greatest one is friendship.

While Epicureanism is decidedly materialist/physicalist, and shows no tendency to idealize anything or anyone in particular, friendship stands alone as a desideratum for happiness. The link between friendship and the basic, Epicurean value of personal safety, as purported in Principal Doctrine 28, is admittedly inadequate in explaining the effusive, enthusiastic endorsement of friendship as voiced in this, present Doctrine.

It is almost certain that in other, non-extant works, Epicurus must have elaborated on the complex issues involved in any friendship: how "instrumental" it may be, how self-serving or selfless, how it may progress from casual acquaintance at first to eventually deep, mutual love between friends, etc. Fragments of or allusions to these, more extensive teachings of Epicurus on the subject of friendship can be found in the so-called Vatican Collection of Sayings.

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