Epicurus is famous today in large part because he was the most well known supporter of the view that eveything in the universe is composed of matter (atoms, which was the Greek world for smallest, indivisible particle). Other philosophers before Epicurus had discussed atoms, but none took the theory to its logical conclusions the way that Epicurus did.
Epicurus observed that nothing ever comes from nothing by supernatural or any other means. He also observed that nothing ever disappears to nothing. From these observations Epicurus held that the universe was eternal in time, and therefore it was never created by any supernatural god. Epicurus held that the universe is boundless in space, and therefore there is nowhere outside this universe where supernatural gods can live.
Epicurus is also famous for having determined that the atoms can “swerve” at no fixed time and no fixed place. He reached this conclusion in part because he observed that intelligent living things have a degree of “agency” or “free will” by which they can make decisions that affect their lives. From this observation he knew that everything in the universe cannot move totally mechanically, like billiard balls, and so the swerve of the atom must exist so as to allow for a mechanism by which intelligent living things can make decisions that can change shape the course of future events. Thus there is at root level no “fate” that compels us to a result that we have no power to change.
Why did Epicurus have confidence in the conclusions? That is a question for Day Three.
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
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.
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
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.
The lesson of the plague of Athens is that bad things do happen, and we must use them to remind us that life is short, it is up to us to live it, and that Nature gives us pleasure and pain as guides to life so we can use the time we have as best as we can.
If the reason is unpurified, we wage an internal war against ourselves.
All the world is mortal too, and just as it once came together into its present form, it will one day pass away.
Wonderment at the stars in heaven breeds confusion, as fools think that the stars are moved by the gods, and this leads them to invoke a bitter lordship of religion over themselves.
Everything that has a body does not have a mind – the element of mind and spirit exists only in connection with living animals.
The gods did not change their immortal ways to create the world for men.
The gods did not live in darkness and grief before they created the world.