As mentioned, this Saturday’s NYC Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy is going to consider Nicomachean Ethics VII.11-14.
NE VII.11-14 is the first of two discussions of pleasure in NE, the other being X.1-5. Sometimes following G.E.L. Owen the first is called the ‘A’ discussion (or simply ‘A’) and the second is called the ‘B’ discussion (or simply ‘B’), and I’ll follow this usage.
In advance of the colloquium, a question I throw open to the pooled wisdom of Dissoi Blogoi readers: What are all the plausible ways in which, it has been proposed, we may understand A in relation to B?
Here’s my catalogue. Tell me if you know of other reasonable views.
1. (redaction critical) A belonged originally to the Eudemian
Ethics; B alone belongs with NE; so the attempt to
harmonize the discussions is misguided.
2. (Aquinas) A deals with corporeal pleasures; B deals
with non-corporeal pleasures.
3. (Owen) A answers the question, “What (properly) are a
person’s pleasures?”; B answers the different question, “What is it to
take pleasure in something?”
4. A is concerned to show that pleasure is not bad; B is concerned to show in what way pleasure is good.
5. A aims to refute 'neutralism', that pleasures are neither inherently good nor bad but incidentally bad, since they impede good activities; B aims to refute hedonism, that pleasure and goodness are the same.
( 4. is the view I favor. )
The chief difficulty which 2.-5. need to handle is to explain why the definitions of pleasure given by A and B are, apparently, incompatible. A seems to define pleasure as the unimpeded activity of an organism in its natural state; B seems to define it as a distinct goal which is supervenient upon such an activity.
Can anyone propose other views? (I haven't canvassed the scholarly literature and am not sure about what people might commonly think.)