Miskawayh on Pleasures and Pains by Peter Adamson

As part if its Classical Dialogues series, the Classical Studies Graduate Program CLST at Columbia University is pleased to welcome Professor Peter Adamson from Munich (LMU). On March 14, 2014, 9-11am, Professor Adamson presents his translation of a formerly neglected text, “On Pleasures and Pains,” by the Islamic thinker Miskawayh, and a paper on how Miskawayh responds to Plato’s and Aristotle’s theories of pleasure. Comments by Jonathan Fine (Columbia, Philosophy) and Christiana Olfert (Tufts). Location: Philosophy Hall 716, Columbia University. Please see below Professor Adamson’s abstract. And, for background on philosophy in the Islamic world, Peter Adamson’s History of Philosophy without any gaps is greatly recommended!

Pleasures and Pains

The Muslim Platonist Miskawayh, between Plato and Aristotle on Pleasure (abstract): Miskawayh (d. 1040) was a polymath historian and philosopher who fused themes from the Islamic tradition with ideas taken from Greek philosophical works as they had reached him in Arabic translation. After sketching the Greek background, especially in Aristotle, this presentation will look at a previously unstudied work by Miskawayh, “On Pleasures and Pains,” which draws on Aristotle and Plato to formulate a theory of pleasure that ascribes pleasure to the life of God and denies that physical experiences like sex, eating and drinking are true pleasures.

In its Classical Dialogues series, the interdepartmental Classical Studies Graduate Progam CLST at Columbia University invites authors of recent work in ancient studies that is exemplary for the kind of study that CLST aims to foster. All faculty and students at Columbia and beyond are cordially invited. CLST students are required to read carefully at least one chapter or article in advance and prepare questions and comments for discussion.