Vatican Saying 21

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This Saying is a summary rendition of Epicurus' theory of the desires-- with a Stoic-sounding, metaphorical admonition.

One ought not attempt to "force" nature; such an effort would be futile, anyhow. It is a far better course of action to try to "persuade" nature. That can be accomplished by a careful management of one's desires: the necessary ones must of course be fulfilled; the natural (but not necessary) ones may also be fulfilled, provided they cause no greater harm than the pleasure they yield; the downright harmful ones (meaning those that are neither necessary nor natural) must be summarily excised from our life.

In the spirit of "natural" philosophy, Epicureanism advocates the alignment of our lifestyle with nature. (The Stoics, of course, also do the same; their definition of "nature", however, differs substantially from the Epicurean view of the matter, as it involves complex correlations with the Stoics' notion of Fate.) In this brief morsel of wisdom, Epicurus summarizes a healthy modus operandi, encapsulating it in simple phrasing and and a memorable admonition.

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