Principal Doctrine 5

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It is impossible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live prudently and honorably and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is lacking (when, for instance, one is not able to live wisely, though he lives honorably and justly) it is impossible for him to live a pleasant life.


Epicurus saw a perfectly rounded, closed-ended relationship between living prudently, honorably, and justly, and the de facto attainment of happiness. Stated here in summary form, this notion is highlighted in Menoeceus 132, where prudence is granted supremacy above all other virtues; one can logically consider honorable and/or just conduct as particular sub-categories of prudence.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The use of the adverb kalos is logically, but only approximately, translated to "honorably". Epicurus did not choose to use the adverb eu for "well", as that might have meant living well as in "affluently". That notion would have been more in line with the teachings of Aristotle, whose eu zen was the commonly accepted "gold standard" in the everyday morality of Greek patricians, but is of course quite different from the "alternative" lifestyle that Epicurus advocated. Kalos means "good/well" in the aesthetic sense of the word, in the sense that something/someone is perceived as good by a putative other party. The term is therefore logically translated to "honorable", as this sort of lifestyle is viewed with approbation by others; inversely, it is highly unlikely that Epicurus would have meant a "splendid" lifestyle, one that dazzles with its beauty.

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