32. For those living things that are unable to enter into a covenant to refrain from harming one another, nothing is just or unjust, and this applies also to those men who are either unwilling or unable to enter into such a covenant.

Alternate Translations: Bailey: For all living things which have not been able to make compacts not to harm one another or be harmed, nothing is either just or unjust, and likewise too for all tribes of men which have been unable or unwilling to make compacts not to harm or be harmed.

Cicero’s Defense of Epicurus: Nevertheless, some men indulge without limit their avarice, ambition, love of power, lust, gluttony, and those other desires which ill-gotten gains can never diminish, but rather inflame. Such men are the proper subjects for restraint, rather than for reformation.

NewEpicurean Commentary: There is no concept of justice or injustice between living creatures that are incapable of making agreements not to harm one another, and this includes men who are unable or unwilling to make such agreements. For a related application of this concept, see the discussion in Porphyry of the Epicurean view attributed to Hermarchus as to the propriety of using animals for food.

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  • Last modified: 2023/07/02 13:36
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