Epicurean Philosophy: Principle Doctrines 1-4 out of 40
I am going to show the 40 Principle Doctrines in different posts. After each Principle I am going to write a brief paragraph of what I understand of them.
1) A blessed and imperishable being neither has trouble itself nor does it cause trouble for anyone else; therefore, it does not experience feelings of anger or indebtedness, for such feelings signify weakness.
Weakness means a vulnerable state. We are vulnerable when we are angry; we are vulnerable in extreme joy; we are vulnerable in sadness. Why? We become vulnerable because extreme emotion makes us lose awareness of our surroundings. On the other hand, strength is the ability to keep our integrity despite the intensity of the aggression. By living a moderate life avoiding causing trouble for us and for the people we interact with, we avoid situations in which we could be the subject of the anger of the individual we interact with. In addition, we save energy for what is really important.
2) Death is nothing to us, because a body that has been dispersed into elements experiences no sensations, and the absence of sensation is nothing to us.
This seems very logical. Why worry about death? Dead people do not feel. This is one of the situations in which the concept of afterlife is pernicious. It creates an extra worry. Personally, my only worry would be the financial one, to assure my family with a secure future in the event of my death. The other issue with afterlife is selfishness. People who believe in an afterlife are still concerned about themselves even as they are going to pass away. On the contrary, it is better to think about leaving a legacy and to assume that our memories are going to be our only survivors.
3) Pleasure reaches its maximum limit at the removal of all sources of pain. When such pleasure is present, for as long as it lasts, there is no cause of neither physical nor mental pain present – or of both together.
In the absence of disease and violence, which cause physical pain, the only source of pain is mental. Anxiety is a major source of “mental pain.” This is why, in order to achieve the state of maximum enjoyment of life, we have to live anxiety-free. This is difficult, especially in the 21stcentury world. The lesson here would be to remove minor daily problems as a source of anxiety and only worry about the important things of life. Of course, there will still be many major sources of anxiety for the common people, however, without the extra weight of the anxiety caused by the minor issues, the stress produced by the major ones would be better dealt with.
4) Continuous physical pain does not last long. Instead, extreme pain lasts only a very short time, and even less-extreme pain does not last for many days at once. Even protracted diseases allow periods of physical comfort that exceed feelings of pain.
This is a good observation. After a major injury, the human mind loses its consciousness and when it is regained the memories of the injury are found to be erased. When this does not happen, post traumatic stress disorder is the consequence. I see this Principle Doctrine as an optimistic message for the future sufferer.