Combining the pleasure-seeking teachings of Aristippus and the atom theory of Democritus, Epicurus" philosophy answers the questions of how best to live one's life and approach death.
Epicurus" Principle Doctrines emphasize the school of thought that the natural pursuit of please does not make one an intrinsically evil, corrupt person. However, though many today misconstrue his message as an approval of sensory overindulgence, his texts advocate the merits of restraint: "No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail disturbances many times greater than the pleasures themselves"(Gill). The teachings of Epicurus state that the fulfillment of one's basic needs unlock the door to a life of pleasure. To spend one's life in a state of anxiety due to the pursuit of excessive merriment will have an inverse effect, wasting one's life in an unpleasant state instead of enjoying simple pleasures (The Philosophy Garden). Indeed, the original writings that shape the epicurianistic philosophy repeatedly sing the praises of intangible pleasures such as wisdom and the peace of mind one derives from living a just life. In response to the question of how one should make the moral decisions to live a respectable life, Epicurus advocates situational truth over universal truth, as his statement that "There never was such a thing as absolute justice, but only agreements made in mutual dealings among men in whatever places at various times providing against the infliction or suffering of harm." illustrates (Cook). As with most philosophies, the Epicureans have guidelines regarding death and eternity as well as life.
According to the Epicurean philosophy, one need not worry about gods or an afterlife. Embracing the atomic theory, Epicurus believes that while alive, people have soul atoms as well as physical atoms. Upon death, however, the frail soul atoms would disperse in all directions (Gaarder).