Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared
Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC) was the founder of the Greek school of Epicurean philosophy. Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you do not have.
Tranquility is not the pretended but the real pursuit of this philosophy; we do not seek the simulated appearance of good things but to enjoy them in fact.
He who is not satisfied with a little, will not be satisfied with everything.
Nothing is enough for whom enough is too little.
Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.
If you wish to make Pythocles rich, do not add to his store of money, but subtract from his desires.
The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth craved by empty ideas extends to infinity.
We must, therefore, pursue the things that make for happiness, seeing that when happiness is present, we have everything we need; but when it is absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.
The just man is most free from disturbance, while the unjust is full of the utmost disturbance.
The wise man who has become accustomed to necessities knows better how to share with others than how to take from them, so great a treasure of self-sufficiency has he found.
Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.
Don’t fear God, don’t worry about death; what’s good is easy to get, and what’s terrible is easy to endure.
Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.
I was not, I was, I am not, I care not.
I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.
Accustom yourself to the belief that death is of no concern to us, since all good and evil lie in sensation and sensation ends with death. Therefore the true belief that death is nothing to us makes a mortal life happy, not by adding to it an infinite time, but by taking away the desire for immortality. For there is no reason why the man who is thoroughly assured that there is nothing to fear in death should find anything to fear in life. So, too, he is foolish who says that he fears death, not because it will be painful when it comes, but because the anticipation of it is painful; for that which is no burden when it is present gives pain to no purpose when it is anticipated. Death, the most dreaded of evils, is therefore of no concern to us; for while we exist death is not present, and when death is present we no longer exist. It is therefore nothing either to the living or to the dead since it is not present to the living, and the dead no longer are.
The flesh receives as unlimited the limits of pleasure; and to provide it requires unlimited time. But the mind, intellectually grasping what the end and limit of the flesh is, and banishing the terrors of the future, procures a complete and perfect life, and we have no longer any need of unlimited time. Nevertheless the mind does not shun pleasure, and even when circumstances make death imminent, the mind does not lack enjoyment of the best life.
It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls.
The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.
It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.
The noble soul occupies itself with wisdom and friendship.
The noble man is chiefly concerned with wisdom and friendship; of these, the former is a mortal good, the latter an immortal one.
Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition and maintenance of friends.
Let no one delay the study of philosophy while young nor weary of it when old.
He who says either that the time for philosophy has not yet come or that it has passed is like someone who says that the time for happiness has not yet come or that it has passed.
You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.
A blessed and imperishable being neither has trouble itself nor does it cause trouble for anyone else; therefore, it does not experience anger nor gratitude, for such feelings signify weakness. It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is lacking, when, for instance, the man is not able to live wisely, though he lives honorably and justly, it is impossible for him to live a pleasant life.
What is blessed and indestructible has no troubles itself, nor does it give trouble to anyone else, so that it is not affected by feelings of anger or gratitude. For all such things are signs of weakness.
I have never wished to cater to the crowd; for what I know they do not approve, and what they approve I do not know.
I am writing this not to many, but to you: certainly we are a great enough audience for each other.
If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.
It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.
He who has peace of mind disturbs neither himself nor another.
Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.
It is better for you to be free of fear lying upon a pallet, than to have a golden couch and a rich table and be full of trouble.
I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding.
Misfortune seldom intrudes upon the wise man; his greatest and highest interests are directed by reason throughout the course of life.
It is impossible for someone to dispel his fears about the most important matters if he doesn’t know nature but still gives credence to fabricated myths. Without the study of nature there is no enjoyment of pleasure.
No pleasure is in itself evil, but the things which produce certain pleasures bring on great pain.
A wise man is happier in poverty than a fool rolling in wealth .
The fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future.
Chance seldom interferes with the wise man; his greatest and highest interests have been, are, and will be, directed by reason throughout his whole life.
Some of our desires are natural and necessary, others are natural but not necessary; and others are neither natural nor necessary, but are due to groundless opinion.
There are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours. For the atoms being infinite in number are borne on far out into space.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
The core of Epicurean philosophy for a happy life is to realize what is needed for basic happiness. The necessities required by our nature are modest and easily procured; the superficialities craved by our ideas are infinite and can never be fully satisfied. An abundance of artificial needs being filled to the brim and overflowing will not make one happy if the basic human necessities are not being met. When we have learned to appreciate what the essentials are and enjoy them, it then becomes easy to accept the non-essentials and enjoy them as tangential gifts. Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. We are happier if we carefully cover and protect our basic needs and let the secondary ones get less attention. Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you do not have. When you know what you really need and what is secondary it becomes easier to make the choices that yield a tranquil life. It is those artificial secondary wants that become the source of needless suffering. Nothing is enough for those to whom enough is too little. What is needed is the wisdom to apply what is important to one’s life. If you wish to make Pythocles rich, do not add to his store of money, but subtract from his desires. There comes a time when having more possessions won’t make a person more happy, it will make a person more worried.
The noble soul occupies itself with wisdom and friendship. The wisdom is knowing what is valuable and what is only of superficial value. One of the important things needed for a tranquil life is friendship. Of all the means to insure happiness throughout a whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition and maintenance of friends.
For a tranquil life one needs to have the basics of life under one’s own control and not be dependent upon others for them. Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth. Some things seem to be beyond our control, but in the long run they are not. Why worry about gods as they never affect anything during life, and why worry about being dead as it is inevitable? Concern yourself with what you can affect. Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist. The I was created from the void, the I is immersed in the void, the I will exit back into the void, the void exists outside of the I’s control. Appreciate the time you live here within the Universe. It appears that even the Universe itself is immersed in a greater void, but these are things even beyond the existence of basic particles, and even they have not the slightest effect on anything over which we have the slightest control. A basic principle of Epicureanism is not to worry about things over which you have no control.
There is plenty to appreciate and enjoy in what is here and readily available.