AdvisorAnnas, Julia E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 30-Jul-2014
AbstractIn this dissertation, I formulate and solve four philosophical puzzles on Aristotle's conception of pleasures and pains by using the Aristotelian dialectical method. The first puzzle concerns the nature of pleasure. In the Nicomachean Ethics book VII, Aristotle describes pleasure as an unimpeded activity of our natural state. In book X, however, he states that pleasure is something that supervenes on activity. I reconcile these two descriptions of pleasure by drawing on Aristotle's scientific works and his works in ethics. By offering this holistic view, I argue that pleasure is a passion or a way of being affected unimpededly. The second puzzle concerns the nature of pain. I develop a perceptual model to understand Aristotle's conception of pain. I also propose a mirroring method to understand pain by utilizing Aristotle's theory of contrariety. I argue that (1) like pleasure, pain is a passion; but (2) unlike pleasure, pain is a way of being affected impededly. Aristotle observed that there are two seemingly conflicting ways of thinking about the nature and significance of pain. On the one hand, perhaps all kinds of pain are evil and must be categorically avoided. On the other hand, perhaps some pains are intrinsically good and necessary in a virtuous life. In the third puzzle, I explore these apparently competing conceptions of pain. I argue that the solution to the puzzle is to affirm the common intuition that all pains are intrinsically bad, but at the same time to reject the claim that pain must always be avoided at all costs. Finally, I formulate a puzzle that comes from the work of Alexander of Aphrodisias, who entertains two opposing ethical intuitions concerning pain. The first intuition is that not all pains are bad, while the second intuition is that all pains are intrinsically bad. To solve the puzzle, I argue that pains are good insofar as they are a type of alienation. Furthermore, using Aristotle's theory of contrariety, I argue that even though all pains are intrinsically bad, it is not the case that all pleasures are good.
Degree ProgramGraduate College