MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Terms




Epicureanism is philosophy developed by Epicurus dating back to 341 B.C.E. in Greece. Epicureanism is more of a system similar to communism rather than a philosopy because it describes nature as it is rather than prescribing it. The watchword of Epicurean philosophy is pleasure. Epicureanism says that all living things move towards pleasure and avoid pain. In other words, what we seek is pleasure and what we avoid is pain. It is an atheistic system. Even though Epicurus has a place for Gods in his philosophy, it was to escape from the attacks (physical and intellectual) of other philosophers (according to Epicurus Gods have no concern with us and we are not influenced by them in any way).

Epicurus thought that it is essential to free men from superstitions and other fears so he insisted on the importance of having a knowledge about natural phenomena. For example, he says, “Death is nothing to us. When we are not death is, when we are death is not.” In short, there is no after-life.

He adopted atomism from Democritus – we are all comprised of atoms and death is a mere dissolution of atoms. However, Epicurus made some changes in his own version. Democritus asserted, in spite of his materialstic atomism, that an impersonal fate governs the natural world. This is because he did not include deviation from straight line in the movement of atoms. However Epicurus included this (atomic swerve) and concluded that everything is made of atoms and the natural events are governed by their movements. Some consider that Epicurus somewhat predicted quantum thoery in this aspect. Also Democritus arrived at only two qualities of atom – size and shape, whereas Epicurus added a third property namely the weight of the atom.

Like Marxism, Epicureanism is not intended to be followed as a religion as their followers did while they were newly introduced.

The most famous of Epicureans were Lucretius and Horace, both of them born before Christ. It is only from the writings of these followers we have full knowledge of epicureanism. There are only fragments of writings surviving today which were originally written by Epicurus and these were letter written by him to his freinds. Carpe dieum (“Seize the day”), the famous latin saying belongs to the poet Horace.

Vijay Arun.



Disciple, follower, imitator, especially in later generation, second-rate imitator of an artist or a philosopher.

Trotsky popularised the use of the word in his 1930 “History of the Russian Revolution”, applying it to the writers of vulgar histories of the revolution, and more broadly to those who declared their loyalty to the revolution but had no understanding of or commitment to the ideals for which the revolution had been made.

Trotsky first used the term in his 1904 “Our Political Tasks” where he refers to the new Iskra as epigone of the earlier Iskra. He also later refers to Stalin as an epigone of Voilmar, who had first put forward a theory of socialism in one country in the 19th century.



Epistemology is the philosophical study of the origins, limits and validity of Knowledge.