18. Once the pain arising from need is removed, physical pleasure is not increased, and only varies in another direction.The essential happiness of the soul depends on understanding this, and on understanding the nature of similar questions which cause great concern to the mind.
Alternate Translations: Bailey: The pleasure in the flesh is not increased when once the pain due to want is removed, but is only varied; and the limit as regards pleasure in the mind is begotten by the reasoned understanding of these very pleasures and of the emotions akin to them which used to cause the greatest fear to the mind.
Cicero’s Defense of Epicurus: A man who is living and conscious of his condition at all necessarily feels either pleasure or pain. Epicurus holds that the experience of the complete absence of all pain is the highest point, or the “limit,” of pleasure. Beyond this point, pleasure may vary in kind, but it does not vary in intensity or degree.
NewEpicurean Comment: Once pain arising from need has been removed, bodily pleasure does not increase in intensity — the body merely turns to other pleasures. It is critical to happiness in life that one reflect on and understand the benchmarks, limits, and boundaries that Nature has set. If desires are allowed to go unrestrained then we are defying the limits set by Nature, and defying Nature leads to the worst terrors and anxieties of life.
See discussion of PD3.