Karl Marx
The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature
[Fragment from the Appendix]

[Fragment from the Appendix]
[Critique of Plutarch's Polemic against the Theology of Epicurus] [27]


[II. Individual Immortality]
[1. On Religious Feudalism. The Hell of the Populace]

The study is again divided into the relation of the Evil-doers and rascals, then of the of the masses and uncivilised and finally of the Decent and intelligent ones (1. c. 1104) [28] to the doctrine of the continued existence of the soul. Already this division into fixed qualitative distinctions shows how little Plutarch understands Epicurus, who, as a philosopher, investigates the essential relationship of the human soul in general.

Then he brings fear up again as the means to reform the evil-doers and thus justifies the terrors of the underworld for the sensuous consciousness. We have already considered this objection of his. Since in fear, and specifically in an inner fear that cannot be extinguished, man is determined as an animal, we do not care at all how an animal is kept in restraint.

Now we proceed to the view of the polloi (Multitude), although it turns out at the end that few people are not included in this term; although, to tell the truth, all people I had almost said all men, vow allegiance to this banner.

In the masses, who have no fear of what comes after death, the myth-inspired hope of eternal life and the desire of being, the oldest and most powerful of all passions, produces joy and a feeling of happiness and overcomes that childish terror. Hence, whoever has lost children, a wife, and friends would rather have them continue to he somewhere and continue to exist, even if in hardship, than be utterly taken away and destroyed and reduced to nothing. On the other hand, they willingly hear such expressions as "the dying person goes somewhere else and changes his dwelling", and whatever else intimates that death is a change of the soul's dwelling, and not destruction ... and such expressions as "he is lost" and "he has perished" and "he is no more" disturb them.... They hold in store for them utter death who say: "We men are born only once; one cannot be born a second time...... For the present is of little account to them, or rather of none at all, in comparison with eternity, and they let it pass without enjoying it and neglect virtue and action, spiritless and despising themselves as creatures of a day, impermanent, and beings worth nothing to speak of. For the doctrine that "being-without-sensation and being-dissolved and what has no sensation is nothing to us" does not remove the terror of death, but rather confirms it. For this is the very thing nature dreads ... the dissolution of the soul into what has neither thought nor sensation; Epicurus, by making this a scattering into emptiness and atoms, does still more destroy our hope of immortality, a hope for which (I would almost say) all men and all women are ready to be torn asunder by Cerberus and to carry constantly [water] into the barrel [of the Danaides], so that they may [only] stay in being and not be extinguished. p. [1104 - ]1105, 1.c

There is really no qualitative difference between this and the previous category. What in the first case appeared in the shape of animal fear, appears here in the shape of human fear, the form of sentiment. The content remains the same.

We are told that the desire of being is the oldest love; to be sure, the most abstract and hence oldest love is the love of self, the love of one's particular being. But that was expressing this fact too bluntly, and so it is retracted and an ennobling halo is cast around it by the semblance of sentiment.

Thus he who loses wife and children would rather that they were somewhere, even under bad conditions, than that they had totally ceased to exist. If the issue were only love, then the wife and the child of the individual would be preserved in the greatest purity in his heart, a state of being far superior to that of empirical existence. But the facts are otherwise. Wife and child as such are only in empirical existence insofar as the individual to whom they belong exists empirically himself. That the individual therefore prefers to know that they are somewhere in sensuous space, even under bad conditions, rather than nowhere, only means that he wants to preserve the consciousness of his own empirical existence. The mantle of love was only a shadow. The naked empirical Ego, the love of self, the oldest love, is the core and has not rejuvenated itself into a more concrete, more ideal shape.

Plutarch believes that the word "change" has a more pleasing sound than "total cessation". But the change is not supposed to be a qualitative one, the individual Ego in its individual being is supposed to persist, the word therefore is only the sensuous image of what the word stands for and has to stand for its opposite. The thing is not supposed to be changed, only placed in a dark spot. The qualitative leap-and every qualitative distinction is a leap, without such leaping no ideality-is then obscured by the interposition of a fantastic distance.

Plutarch also thinks that this consciousness ....

[Here the manuscript breaks off.- Ed.]