[Latest Updated MP3 Version here] [Vimeo Edition]Of all the original texts that are available from the ancient world, Epicurus’ Letter to Herodotus preserved by. Letter to Herodotus has 52 ratings and 1 review. Epicurus summarizes the key doctrines from “On Nature” (of which only a few fragments have been recovere. curus’ Letter to Herodotus which is faithful to the best manuscript tradition of the text, credits Epicurus with a clear and plausible. (though lamentably fallacious).

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Every conception, elicurus sensible perception which bears upon the form or the other attributes of these images, is only the same form of the solid perceived directly, either in virtue of a sort of actual and continued condensation of the image, or in consequence of the traces which it has left in us. What do I say?

For outside the sum of things there is nothing which could enter into it and bring about the change. Error would not have occurred, if we had not experienced some other movement in ourselves, conjoined with, but distinct from, the perception of what is presented.

For if it changed its direction, that would be equivalent to its meeting with resistance, even if up to that point we allow nothing to impede the rate of its flight. Each of these objects, great and small, has been separated from the infinite by a movement peculiar to itself.

Hence those who call soul incorporeal speak foolishly. For it is utterly impossible that the voice should act in this manner on the air. Educated men introduced the notion of things not discoverable by the senses, and appropriated words to them when they found themselves under the necessity of uttering their thoughts; after this, other men, guided in every point by reason, interpreted these words in the same sense.

For it is not impossible that there should be found in the surrounding air combinations of this kind, materials adapted for expressing the hollowness and thinness of surfaces, and effluxes preserving the same relative position and motion which they had in the solid objects from which they come.

Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus

For it had not this power in itself; but something else, congenital with the body, supplied it to body: Letter to Herodotus by Epicurus. All these qualities, I repeat, merely give the body its own permanent nature. Let us also beware of thinking that animals are derived from the infinite; for there is no one who can herodots that the seeds from which animals are born, and plants, and all the other objects which we contemplate, have been brought from the exterior in such a world, and that this same world would not have been able to produce them of itself.

Inwood, Brad and Gerson, L.

For that which is finite has an extreme, and that which has an extreme is looked at in relationship to something else. Hence we must attend to present feelings and sense perceptions, whether those of mankind in general or those peculiar to the individual, and also attend to all the clear evidence available, as given by each of the standards of truth. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical herodotuss, counterbalances all these afflictions.


Epicurus also adds some brilliant and daring insights of his own, notably in his explanation of mental function in terms of the movements epixurus specialized neural atoms and his suggestion that the universe is filled with other worlds where extraterrestrial life is possible.

Next, we must by all means stick to our sensations, that is, dpicurus to the present impressions whether of the mind or of any criterion whatever, and similarly to epicugus actual feelings, in order that we may have the means of determining that which needs confirmation and that which is obscure.

It is from the infinite that the worlds are derived, and all the finite aggregates which present numerous analogies with the things which we observe under our own eyes. It has some characteristic in common with the object which admit of transformation, but it also differs from them, inasmuch as it does not allow any distinct parts to be discerned in it. The rest of the body, on the other hand, even when it remains, either as a whole, or in any part, loses all feeling by the dispersion of that aggregate of atoms, whatever it may be, dpicurus forms the soul.

For the presentations which, for example, are received in a picture or arise in dreams, epicuruw from any other form of apprehension by the mind or by the other criteria of truth, would never have resembled what we call the real and true things, had it not been for certain actual things of the kind with which we come in contact.

Lettwr containing sheaths may be dislocated in whole or lteter part, and portions of the soul may thereby be lost; yet in spite of this the soul, if it manage to survive, will have sentience. According to Epicurean cosmology, no Prime Mover nor a teleology governing the movement of matter: Connie rated it liked it Oct 09, But, again, there is the third part which exceeds the other two in the herodktus of its particles and thereby keeps in closer epicuurs with the rest of the frame.

Again, we must believe that smelling, like hearing, would produce no sensation, were there not particles conveyed from the object which are of the proper sort for exciting the organ of smelling, some of one sort, some of another, some exciting it confusedly and strangely, others quietly and agreeably.

Letter to Herodotus by Epicurus

Besides this, remember that the production of the images is as quick as thought. Return to Book Page. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. In fact, we see these minima one after another, beginning with the first, and not as occupying the same space; nor do we see them touch one another’s parts with their parts, but we see that by virtue of their own peculiar character as being unit indivisibles they afford a means of measuring magnitudes: None the less is it true that the whole of the motion in the respective cases is conceived as extending in opposite directions ad infinitum.


Nor can we help thinking that in this way, by proceeding forward from one to the next in order, it is possible by such a progression to arrive in thought at infinity.

Historical Context for Letter to Herodotus by Epicurus

Further, the whole of being consists of bodies and space. But the rest of epicurhs frame, whether the whole of it survives or only a part, no longer has sensation, when once those atoms have departed, which, however few in number, are required to constitute the nature of soul. It is of such a sort that those who are already tolerably, or even perfectly, well acquainted with the details can, by analysis of what they know into such elementary perceptions as these, best prosecute their researches in physical science as a whole; while those, on the other hand, who are yo altogether entitled to rank as epicugus students can in silent fashion and as quick as thought run over the doctrines most important for their peace of mind.

Further, we must keep in mind that soul has the greatest share in causing sensation. Now one has arrived at that point when one herodouts thoroughly embraced the conceptions, and, if I may so express myself, the most essential forms, and when one has impressed them adequately on one’s senses.

But there are other manners in which phenomena of this kind are produced; for there is nothing in all this which at all contradicts the senses, if one only considers in what way the senses are exercised, and if one is epicurua to explain the relation which is established between external objects and ourselves. For troubles and anxieties and feelings of anger and partiality do not accord with bliss, but always imply weakness and fear and dependence upon one’s neighbors.

But when we come to subjects for special herodous, there is nothing in the knowledge of risings and settings and solstices and eclipses and all kindred subjects that contributes to our happiness; but those who are well-informed about such matters and yet are ignorant—what the heavenly bodies really are, and what are the most important causes of phenomena, feel quite as much fear as those who have no such special information—nay, perhaps even greater fear, when the curiosity excited by this additional knowledge cannot find a solution or understand the subordination of these phenomena to the highest causes.