Between Saying and Doing: Aristotle, Speusippus, and the Struggle against Pleasure

Apeiron (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This study aims to provide a coherent new interpretation of the notorious anti-hedonism of Speusippus, Plato’s nephew and the second scholarch of the Academy, by reconsidering all the relevant sources concerning his attitude toward pleasure—sources that seem to be in tension or even incompatible with each other. By reassessing Speusippus’ anti-hedonism and Aristotle’s response, it also sheds new light on the Academic debate over pleasure in which he and Aristotle participated: This debate is not merely concerned with the truth and credibility of the arguments for or against hedonism; there are also notable differences among the participants in their understanding of the practical significance of evaluating hedonic experiences. This new interpretation allows us to better understand Aristotle’s selective representation of the intra-school debate and some neglected features of his responses to different interlocutors.

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Wei Cheng
Peking University

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