The Message Of The Epicureans

Epicurus Overcame The Terror Of Religion And Showed Us How To Live According to Nature

The Teachings of Epicurus About Knowledge

  1. Knowledge Is Based On The Senses, Not on Reasoning Alone
  2. Confidence Is Built Step By Step On The Conclusions Established By The Senses

The Teachings of Epicurus About the Nature of the Universe

  1. Nothing Comes From Nothing
  2. Nothing Is Destroyed To Nothing
  3. The Universe As A Whole Has Always Existed, and Will Always Exist
  4. Nothing Has Eternal Independent Existence Except the Elemental Particles
  5. Combinations of Matter and Void Are Perishable And Do Not Last Forever
  6. All That We See Around Us Arises From The Properties And Qualities of Combinations of Particles And Space
  7. The Elemental Particles Are Constantly In Motion
  8. Elemental Particles Have the Capacity To Swerve At No Fixed Place Or Time
  9. The Universe As A Whole Is Boundless
  10. The Universe Is Populated With Life In Other Worlds
  11. In Other Worlds There Are Beings Lower and Higher That Ourselves, Some of Whom Have Attained Immortality and Perfect Happiness
  12. Although We Lack Evidence About The Things We See In The Sky, Many Natural Explanations Are Possible
  13. Knowledge of the Universe Is Gained Naturally, By Intelligent Use of the Images We Receive In the Flow of Elemental Particles
  14. The False Threat Posed By Religion

The Teachings of Epicurus About Nature's Goal For All Life

  1. Life Begins When Our Bodies Are Formed And Ends When We Die - Death Is Nothingness To Us
  2. The Goal of All Living Beings Is to Live Pleasurably
  3. Reject The Argument That Pleasure Is Not the Goal of Life Because Pleasure Has No Limit
  4. Reject The Argument That We Should Pursue Virtue Rather Than Pleasure
  5. Nature Calls All Living Beings to Pursue Pleasure Intelligently
    1. Mental Pleasure And Pain Are More Intense Than That of the Body
    2. In Pursuing Pleasure Intelligently Sometimes We Will Choose Pain
    3. "Fate" Does Not Exist - We Have Much Freedom To Choose Our Path In Life
    4. Life Is Desirable So That We May Live Pleasurably
    5. Wise Men Pursue Pleasure Through Reasoning And Not Through Chance
    6. Wise Men Live According To Their Means And Circumstances
    7. Wise Men Embrace Emotion And Do Not Seek To Suppress It
    8. Life Is Short So It Must Be Used Wisely To Maximize Happiness
    9. Store Up Good Memories To Enjoy When Times Are Bad
    10. Treasure Friendship As Essential To Happiness
  6. Treasure Freedom From the Crowd And Proclaim True Philosophy To Those Who Will Listen
  7. Reject the Argument That There Is Single Absolute Justice And A Single Way For All Men To Live
  8. Treasure Your Community Of Friends And Protect It From Those Who Would Harm You

The Epicureans' Great Commission For Life According to Nature


  1. Epicurus - Elementary Principles of Nature
  2. Epicurus - Principal Doctrines
    1. Doctrine 1
    2. Doctrine 2
    3. Doctrine 3
    4. Doctrine 4
    5. Doctrine 5
    6. Doctrine 6
    7. Doctrine 7
    8. Doctrine 8
    9. Doctrine 9
    10. Doctrine 10
    11. Doctrine 11
    12. Doctrine 12
    13. Doctrine 13
    14. Doctrine 14
    15. Doctrine 15
    16. Doctrine 16
    17. Doctrine 17
    18. Doctrine 18
    19. Doctrine 19
    20. Doctrine 20
    21. Doctrine 21
  3. Epicurus - Sayings From The "Vatican List"
  4. Epicurus - Sayings About the Wise Man
  5. Epicurus - Letter to Herodotus
  6. Epicurus - Letter to Pythocles
  7. Epicurus - Letter to Menoeceus
  8. Lucretius - On The Nature of Things
    1. 1 Lucretius
      1. Epicurus broke through the chains of religion to discover the truth about Nature
      2. Religion is the true mother of wickedness in the world.
      3. Religion oppresses men by causing them to fear punishment by the gods both in this life and in eternal hell hereafter.
      4. The remedy to the terrors of the spirit manufactured by religion is to study and uncover the true nature of the universe, for this will allow us to see that those threats are not real.
      5. The true nature of the soul is not obvious to us, so if we are to free ourselves from religious fears we must study nature. We must also see that religion is not correct when it asserts that we have eternal souls which will be punished or rewarded by gods after death.
      6. Our starting point in this study of nature is this primary observation: nothing ever comes from nothing. We observe that neither gods nor any other forces are able to create any thing from nothing.
      7. Once we see that nothing comes from nothing, we can see that all things come into being in accord with the nature of their elemental material, and that all things occur without any intervention from any gods.
      8. Our method for proving that nothing comes from nothing is the same method we use to address all questions. We must look at the evidence around us and draw deductive conclusions based on the evidence nature provides to us through our senses.
      9. We must also test conclusions by looking to see that the opposite conclusion is not supported by the evidence nature provides.
      10. Nature determines qualities of all things, and the limits and boundaries of what is possible to them, including how all things come into being, grow, and pass away.
      11. Nature also contains life-giving particles which, under certain conditions, are capable of springing to life.
      12. Our second primary observation is this: all things pass away and change back into the essential material from which they are made, but nothing is ever absolutely destroyed to nothing.
      13. If things passed away to nothing, in the eternity of time past all things would have passed away, and nothing would be left in the universe.
      14. But we see that the universe survives, and has not all passed away, and therefore we conclude that the basic material of the universe is indestructible.
      15. Do not doubt that elementary material is indestructible simply because it is too small to see. You cannot see the air or odors either, and yet you know they exist.
      16. Nature’s work is done by elementary particles so small that they are unseen. In addition to these particles, however, there is also empty space, or "void.”
      17. We know that void exists because otherwise movement would be impossible; but we see that things do move, so we know void exists.
      18. We conclude that everything in nature is made up of matter and void. Nothing exists in the universe except matter and void.
      19. Because the elementary material of the universe is eternal, the universe is itself eternal. This does not mean that the current form of the universe is eternal, because the elementary material constantly changes position, but the elementary material from which the universe is made is itself eternal.
      20. There is a limit to the divisibility of the elementary material. The smallest elementary materials are indivisible and eternal
      21. All things are not made from a single substance, but from many distinct elementary materials. Fools often admire the things their blindness sees in hidden meanings, and they follow men such as Heraclitus, who argued that all things are made from a single substance – fire.
      22. Errors about the nature of things arise because philosophers teach that the senses cannot be trusted, but all arguments against the reliability of the senses are madness. This is because such arguments are self-contradictory – they argue against the senses by using the senses, and those who use the senses must accept that they are trustworthy.
      23. Just as a limited number of letters in the alphabet form all words by being arranged differently, the elementary materials of the universe form all things by combining in different ways.
      24. There is a limit to divisibility. There is an absolute smallest.
      25. Our goal is to free the mind from the restrictions imposed by religion. Although it may seem grim to conclude that life ends at death, we will rim the cup with honey so that take the medicine that may seem bitter, but which brings healing.
      26. The universe is infinite in extent, and has no boundaries no matter how far you travel in any direction.
      27. The universe has no center.
      28. Matter and space are equally infinite.
      29. These basic lessons lead to all the rest that follows. Applying our method to all questions will lead to a series of answers which each, in turn, illuminates the next.
    2. 2 Lucretius
    3. 3 Lucretius
      1. Epicurus is like a father who has brought us immortal truths
    4. 4 Lucretius
    5. 5 Lucretius
    6. 6 Lucretius
      1. Civilization first flowered in Athens, and Athens brought to us a man – Epicurus – who discovered and brought to us the complete truth, and as a result his glory makes him seem to us almost divine
      2. Epicurus diagnosed the problem that corrupts men’s lives, and cleansed our hearts by words of truth, showing us (1) the error of greeds and fears, (2) the highest good that Nature has ordained for men, (3) the natural evils that confront the lives of men, and that they can be defeated once we learn the proper way to deal with them, and (4) that most of the anxieties we face are imaginary, no worse than the imaginings of children.
      3. Even those who otherwise understand the laws of Nature may wonder how certain things can happen, especially in the sky, and this wonder leads to confusion and to regress to superstitious religious awe
      4. Stop having thoughts unworthy of the gods, because this will harm you – not because the gods will care, but because you will fear that you are at the mercy of the gods and this will cause you great anxiety.
      5. We see that lightning is not caused by the gods because it does not occur with any consistency to punish the enemies of the gods or to accomplish anything.
      6. Snow, wind, hail and the light are understandable if you keep in mind the basic properties of the elements involved.
      7. Many natural phenomena cannot be isolated to a single cause due to lack of information, so consider all reasonable possibilities that are not eliminated by the evidence.
  9. Diogenes Laertius - Biography of Epicurus
  10. Cicero - On Ends
  11. Cicero - On The Nature of the Gods
  12. Diogenes of Oinoanda - The Inscription
  13. Philodemus - On Methods of Inference
  14. Epicurean Passages From Other Sources

Nothing Is Destroyed To Nothing

We must also observe that in course of time Nature dissolves every thing back into its first bodies, but does not totally annihilate anything. 

For if that which disappears were totally destroyed, all things would have long since perished, since that into which they were dissolved would not exist.  

If the elements were themselves mortal, things in a moment would be snatched away to destruction from before our eyes; since no force would be needed to produce disruption among its parts and undo their fastenings. 

But in fact, all things consist of an imperishable elements, and nature allows the destruction of nothing to be seen until a force is encountered sufficient to dash things to pieces by a blow, or to pierce through the void places within them and break them up. 

If time, through age, utterly destroys all things, eating up all their matter, out of what does Venus bring back into the light of life the race of living things, each after its kind? Out of what does Earth give them nourishment, furnishing each one with food? 

Out of what do the fountains and rivers keep full the sea? Out of what does ether feed the stars? For infinite time gone by would have eaten up all things if they were formed of mortal bodies.

Now if those bodies of which the sum of things is composed have existed for an infinite period of time, they no doubt have imperishable bodies, and cannot therefore return to nothing.