Ibn Rushd on Knowledge, Pleasures, and Analogy
Fouad Ben Ahmed
1 The first version of this paper was presented in Freising at SIEPM Conference “Pleasures of Knowledge,” August 20-25, 2012. I would like to thank the DAAD scholarship for the generous grant and Thomas Institute, Köln, for the warm hospitality. I should mention that this article is already published with many mistakes in https://philosophia-bg.com/philosophia-4-2012/ibn-rusd-knowledge-pleasures-and- analogy/
2 See, for example, Stephen Halliwell, “Pleasure, Understanding and Emotion in Aristotle’s Poetics’,” in Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics, ed. A. Rorty (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 241–60; id., The Aesthetics of Mimesis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 177–206.
3 Salim Kemal, The Philosophical Poetics of Al-farabi, Avicenna and Averroes, the Aristotelian Reception (London-New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003); Deborah Black, Logic and Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics in Medieval Arabic Philosophy (Leiden-New York-København-Köln: Brill, 1990).
4 Averroès (Ibn Rushd),Commentaire Moyen à laRhétoriqued’Aristote, vol. II:Introduction édition et traduction et introduction et notes de Maroun Aouad (Paris: Vrin, 2002), 1. 11. 1.
5 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 7. 29.
6 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 7. 29.
7 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 4.
8 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 2.
9 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 6.
10 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 10.
11 Averroes, Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s De anima, A Critical Edition of the Arabic Text with the English
Translation, Notes, and Introduction by Alfred L. Ivry (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2002),
50, § 131.
12 Especially, where Averroes deals with education, I mean the impact of metaphoric and analogical statements
on guards and children.
13 Ibn Rushd, Tafsīr mā baʿd al-Ṭabiʿa (Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics), texte arabe inédit établi
par Maurice Bouygues (Beyrouth: Dar El-Machreq, 1993), 1616–1618. 14 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 1616.
15 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 1616.
16 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 1618. 17 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 10.
18 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 1616. 19 Long Commentary on the Metaphysics, 1616.
20 Long Commentary on the Metaphysics, 1616–1617.
21 Long Commentary on the Metaphysics, 1618.
22 Ralph Lerner, Averroes on Plato’s Republic, Translated, with an Introduction and Notes by Ralph Lerner
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), 146.
23 Lerner, Averroes on Plato’s Republic, 147.
24 Lerner, Averroes on Plato’s Republic, 147.
25 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 19.
26 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 26.
27 Erwin Rosenthal, Averroes’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic, edition and translation E.I. J. Rosenthal
(Cambridge: Cambridge, University Press, 1956), 178. 28 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 26.
29 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 27.
30 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 28. 31 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 32. 32 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 32. 33 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 2. 1.
34 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 2. 1.
35 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 2. 1.
36 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 2. 4.
37 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 11. 6.
38 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 10. 3.
39 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 10. 4.
40 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 3. 10. 4; see also, Maroun Aouad, Averroès. Commentaire moyen à la
Rhétorique, vol. I (Introduction générale), 115; Salim kemal, The Philosophical Poetics of Al-farabi, Avicenna and Averroes, the Aristotelian Reception, 129–130.
41 Averroes, Short Commentary on Aristotle’s “Poetics”, in Averroes, Three Short Commentaries on Aristotle’s “Topics”, “Rhetoric”, and “Poetics”, edited and translated by Charles Butterworth (New York, Albany State University of New York Press, 1977), § 4.
42 Averroes, Short Commentary on Aristotle’s “Poetics”, § 1.
43 Al-Farabi, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, translated with an introduction by Muhsin Mahdi (Ithaca, New
York: Cornell University Press, 1969) p. 72–74, §2. And Salim Kemal, The Philosophical Poetics of Al-farabi,
Avicenna and Averroes, 67–68.
44 Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique, 1. 11. 32.
45 Averroes, Short Commentary on Aristotle’s “Poetics”, § 1.
46 Averroes, Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s “Poetics”, translated and introduced by Charles Butterworth
(Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1986), § 3.
47 Butterworth, Averroes’ Middle Commentary on Aristotle’ Poetics, § 4.
48 Averroes, Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s “Poetics”, § 13.
Much has been written about Aristotle’s treatment of knowledge, pleasure, and analogy.2 Regarding Ibn Rushd (Averroes, 595/1198), however, there are only a few studies that have dealt principally with this topic.3 This topic brings together logic, psychology, politics, metaphysics, rhetoric, and poetics, which makes the task of studying it very difficult. Of course, analogy belongs firstly to logic since it is a kind of argument, but it also essentially belongs to the art of rhetoric and – to a lesser extent – to poetry, where we meet the concept of analogy under the name “likeness”, “comparison”, or “metaphor”. One can note, in the same vein, that pleasure is a psychological concept. Nevertheless, given that rhetoric uses emotions and passions, Ibn Rushd devotes many paragraphs in his Middle
Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric to the concept of pleasure and pleasuring. Moreover, pleasure was a subject of a special exploration in the Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, where one can meet a new view of Ibn Rushd on persistence of pleasure, which poses many philosophical and doctrinal difficulties. In addition to that, the end of the Ibn Rushd’s Commentary on Plato’s Politics joins this metaphysical position, where Ibn Rushd introduces the intellectual pleasure as the climax of all other kinds of pleasures.
Given the multiplicity of purposes and challenges of every one of the above-mentioned disciplines, the difficulty is, also, in the multiplicity of links and relations between these notions. One may feel that he is in front of a complex and conceptual web, a web that covers most of philosophical areas in the Middle Ages. These notions are shared between many arts, but they do not have the same meaning. Therefore, every art gives this notion a specific flavor. My task is to look for the meanings of these notions within those arts before inquiring whether there are links between Ibn Rushd’s accounts of knowledge, pleasure and analogy in the arts.
In his Middle Commentary on Rhetoric, Ibn Rushd defines pleasure as follows: “Pleasure is a change to a disposition that is suddenly generated by a natural feeling through the thing that is felt. I mean when the thing that is felt is natural to the feeling.”4
In this definition, Ibn Rushd stresses at least four major ideas:
a. Pleasure is a change;
b. A sudden occurrence of a new disposition in the soul;
c. A natural sensation as the cause of this new disposition;
d. And a natural relation between the sense and the object of sense.
It appears that there are two sources of pleasure: the first is natural, which is one we have delight in “willingly”;5 the second is not natural, but we can get delight from if by “habit”.6 At first glance, it seems that Ibn Rushd introduces these sources of pleasure —nature and habit—as if they are incompatible, but for human beings this is not true. The function of “to get used to” and time is the elimination of the chasm between the two sources. In fact, since one can do what is pleasant by nature without any coercion, effort, or obligation, which are required by some kinds of work, the oncoming of the habit from the natural is an attempt to
overcome these factors.7
Is it possible to acquire knowledge without any constraint? How does Ibn Rushd explain
that apprehension is a pleasant thing?
Habit and time are the key to these questions. Ibn Rushd may claim that pleasure lies in
the habit itself, or habit is one of the pleasant things. Since pleasant things are things that have been felt, it is necessary that those, among them, which have occurred by nature, are more pleasant, especially when this disposition is a passion and not an action. What is by habit becomes enjoyable only because the thing that we get used to becomes similar to something that is inherently and permanently enjoyable; something that resembles nature.8 Indeed, what occurs often is almost the natural thing, which occurs always. Habit is therefore very close to nature.
Time also has a role at the level of divisions and degrees of pleasures. With regard to imagination, although it is a weak sense, it provides us with a sort of pleasure, which means that it remains a sense; for example, a sense of something seen in the past, which means that this sense is the source of the pleasure that one get from the products imagination, which are “memory” and “hope”.9
One can rearrange the pleasures to three kinds in accordance with to the three dimensions of time, then in accordance to the degree of their intensity:
– Sense deals with the present time; I mean when things felt are present and in proceeding, the pleasure takes place by feeling them. While sense is specific to the present things, memory deals with the past. Even when things felt are passed, the pleasure takes place in remembering them: remembering is a sensation that is specific to the past.
– Hope deals with the future; I mean when future things felt in the form of a hope, the pleasure resides in that hope: hope is a sensation that is specific to the future.
Ibn Rushd here defends a kind of differentiation between the pleasures that one can get from the internal and external senses. However, regarding the imagination, he relates the intensity to the way of imagining these past and future things. In many desired objects, the
pleasure is not only linked as they are present in fact, that is to say as they are felt, but their pleasure is also linked as they are imagined. That is the reason why a thing, when being subject of someone’s desire, creates sometimes a certain pleasure, regardless of how it is remembered. Likewise, whoever hopes for something he finds, what he longs for is the source of his pleasure. Ibn Rushd states: “That is why the feverish, whom the doctors prohibited from drinking water, gets pleasure in remembering the time when he was drinking and hoping the cure, in order to be able to drink.”10 In sum, Ibn Rushd shows, here, the role played by the habit, time, and manner in producing pleasure. In other words, time, habit, and manner play here the main role to render things pleasant.
It thus appears that the approach pursued in the Ibn Rushd’s Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima11 and Ibn Rushd’s Middle Commentaries on Aristotle’s Rhetoric presented pleasure linked to a web of faculties, affections, and
conditions that are, themselves, connected each to another. What is more, the two commentaries introduced at least two meanings of pleasure: one associated with senses; the other one is associated with the intellect. While the first meaning leads us to the concept of pleasure as elaborated in Ibn Rushd commentaries on Rhetoric, Poetics and parts of Plato’s Politcs,12 the second opens us a metaphysical horizon of pleasure, which Ibn Rushd discusses in his Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Commentary on Plato’s Politics.
2. Intellectual pleasure: beyond all conflict
The Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics provides us with a specific concept of pleasure. Although it agrees with a part of what Paraphrase on Aristotle Rhetoric said, it directs pleasure toward a distinct horizon, purely intellectual, this, if not a divine pleasure, in which one can live in perpetual pleasure, beyond all worldly contradictions and sources of conflicts.13
Ibn Rushd relates pleasure to apprehension, given that the latter is a cause of the former. The argument that proves this is that apprehension, I mean waking, like understanding and feeling, is enjoyable.14 However, Ibn Rushd makes a division between the sources of pleasure, I mean between what is an apprehension of something that exists actually and what
is an apprehension of something that does not exist actually.15 Thus, pleasure becomes associated with the first source. Therefore, “hopefulness” and “remembering” become almost “a sorrow”; because of the yearning that precedes the apprehension becomes a pain rather than a pleasure.16 Ibn Rushd’s Paraphrase on Aristotle’s Rhetoricconsidered “hopefulness” and “remembering” as pleasant things because of the fact that whoever hopes and remembers, he merely imagines that the hoped and remembered thing exist,17 while the
pleasant apprehension, according to the Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics is an apprehension of what exists actually, not in potentiality.18
Ibn Rushd here might seem to prefer the pleasures of sensation since they are an apprehension of something that exists actually. In fact, he, however, prefers the apprehension of the intellect because it understands its subject more than any other kinds of apprehension, since whenever there is more understanding, there is more pleasure, and whoever understands more, is, then, more delighted. Moreover, it seems that the act of intellection is something that is more pleasant and superior to anything that can exist in us. Ibn Rushd said: “The pleasure that is the highest is the pleasure gotten by whoever posseses the greatest capacity of understanding and intellection.”19 However, since in this stage, the intellect and the intelligible are the same thing, the the intellect itself becomes subject of pleasure and the the part whish takes pleasure at the same time. What thinks about itself
takes pleasure in itself, which is the true pleasure. The intellect, therefore, is what takes pleasure in itself.20
In sum, Ibn Rushd introduces pleasure as something that is beyond all conflict, because it is beyond all sources of conflict, which are the senses. Sorrow cannot contradict pleasure here, because pleasure becomes something that is beyond all affections, it becomes independent of the passions, as Alexander of Aphrodisias states.21 Moreover, it depends on the intellect the a shadow depends on a body. Since pleasure is a result of an intellectual apprehension that is beyond all lack of knowledge, there would be no interruption in this kind of pleasure because of the persistence and the stability of the intellectual apprehension.
3. Commentary on Plat’s Politics: the true pleasure
Ibn Rushd links the destiny of politics to a notion of an ultimate pleasure. However, at the end of his Commentary on Plato’s Politics one finds a specific notion of pleasure which agrees with what Ibn Rushd states in Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. One can find in both books a metaphysical meaning of pleasure and a kind of convergence between Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander of Aphrodisias. In fact, pleasure is a meetings point of the end of the his Commentary on Plato’s Politics and Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics.
Since pleasure, psychologically speaking, belongs to sensation, it remains a subject of contradiction, sorrow and sadness. However, the Commentary on Plato’s Politics says clearly that real pleasure should be beyond all pain, since “pleasant things do not require, as such, to be preceded by an opposite.”22 While Ibn Rushd says in his Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics that apprehension and pleasure go together; I mean that the first is the cause of the second, he in his Commentary on Plato’s politics, stressed this causality; he says: “As with most intellectual pleasures, they become better as the intellect performs them.”23 Thus, if the apprehension of the intellect is beyond all ignorance, the pleasure is
beyond all pain. According to reading of Ibn Rushd, The conclusion of Plato is: “The pleasure of the intellect has no opposite. Thus, [a pleasure] is either eternal or it perishes owing to a change that comes over it.” Ibn Rushd comments on this conclusion by stating: “This argument-upon my life!- is a demonstrative argument.”24 It appears that the climax of politics is metaphysic in Ibn Rushd.
4. Nature, change, and habit
Since pleasure is a goal that everyone wants to obtain, it requires some means. Ibn Rushd enumerates many means. However, what I intend to emphasize is what he presents as “arts and training” as an introduction to pleasure. Ibn Rushd defines them as the activities which intend to acquire a skill. However, there is a prominent difference between “arts” and “training” regarding pleasure.
There are two kinds of arts and activities regarding pleasure: some of them are pleasuring from the beginning, such as hunting and playing chess. Such activities offer every user pleasure, even if he is a beginner. However, some arts cause fatigue and harm in the beginning. Such arts require habit and time before they became enjoyable. Among these arts, Ibn Rushd mentions art of wisdom (philosophy) and learning sciences.25 Nevertheless, since time and habit are two requirements of such arts, there are some means to help get used to. Repetition is one of these means, since repeating one particular thing becomes enjoyable, and by the this repetiting that particular thing dominate the soul.26 Thus, when philosophy or knowledge dominates the soul of the man, it becomes the unique subject of pleasure, since the man is already inclined with all his soul toward that knowledge. Ibn Rushd states: “For when someone’s desire fixes on something with the utmost intensity, his soul is deflected from the other desires.”27
However, Ibn Rushd hints that this repetition may lead the soul to tire of the repeated thing. The repetition might deprive the soul to apprehend new things. He explains that by the fact that the soul feels that it has satisfied its needs of the present thing, especially when it takes a long time, then it looks for relief from it through something else, which can provide it with some new benefits and new experiences.28 In this context, the new thing becomes
more enjoyable, which means “changing and moving from a state to another are delicious of course, because the soul would benefit by feeling something new.”29 Indeed, the definition of pleasure is exactly this pleasurable movement from one state to another.
5. Analogy and the thrill of the discovery
Analogy is one of those things that make it easier to obtain new knowledge. Since learning leads human being to become “wonderful and admired”, learning becomes pleasant.30 Moreover, since learning is a kind of apprehension, it becomes pleasant, because it realizes this apprehension, which means that learning is an apprehension in act. Thus, since apprehension is pleasant, it becomes more pleasant when its subject is pleasant. Ibn Rushd mentions among these pleasant subjects, making analogies and comparisons between things.31 Therefore, pleasure is recognizing, discovering, or reconstructing these connections between things that exist in the world.
Then, how do analogy and learning become pleasant? At first glance, since recognizing the
connections between similar things is a subject of a natural desire, the pleasure will be in comparing between these things. Therefore, pleasure goes together with knowledge and analogy. In other words, via analogy, one learns and enjoys at the same time. Even more, analogy itself is pleasant because when one imagines or imitates something that should exist, the pleasure does not lie in the beauty or the ugliness of this image, but rather in this analogical process, I mean in this move from what is already known, as a premise in the syllogism, to what is not known yet (quaesitum).32 This epistemological side of analogy is what attracts Ibn Rushd more than other sides. One may say that the pleasure is in that move, which seems true because, analogy is a kind of transfer of mind from a particular subject to another. Through analogy human mind moves from one state to another, then this move is suitable to the mind because of the likeness that is between the premise and the question.
6. Pleasure and changed statements: mediation between ignorance and knowledge
As is well known, Ibn Rushd refuses everything based on chance. To convince your addressee means to master the art of rhetoric. This does not mean that everybody can succeed to convince by chance. However, chance cannot found the art. Thus, convincing is the fruit of an art. This art, which is the art of rhetoric requires a good use of words as well
as of statements and arguments.
Both, rhetoric and poetics share some means, especially some imaginative means, but
there is a difference between them in terms of the degree of imagination, whether in both in the used terms or in the arguments. Moreover, rhetorical statements cannot get conviction without these three means: a good understanding, pleasuring, and wondering. These means are common between rhetoric and poetic, but only up to a point. Ibn Rushd states: “The excellence of rhetoric or poetic statement […] is obtained by the change (taghyyīr).”33 Change here means using metaphorical words. Changed words are useful to indicate something that was not known yet to the listener, or if, it was not completely known.34 In fact, neither the statements which are composed of usual words can bring an additional meaning for the audience, nor the statements that consist of very strange words
(asmāʾ gharība). In sum, a good statement manages to give that additional meaning only when avoiding two things: the first one is usual and common words (al-mustawliyya); and the second is exaggeration in changing the words, because in this case the audience cannot understand the connection between the parts of metaphor or comparison.35 Thus using changed statements (aqwāl mughayyara) with these two precautions may provide “a nice statement” that joins the three following features: understanding, pleasuring, and wondering or strangeness. Via the strangeness that lies in it, the changed words (al-asmāʾal- mughayyara) give an extra meaning to the topic, like the wonder it happens to the original inhabitants when they see strangers for the first time. Changed words which are strange creates wonder when heard for the first time.36
Ibn Rushd concludes that a good persuasion “happened by words that are not totally known nor completely unknown, but are in between. Since using analogy is very benificial in
philosophy and in this [=art of rhetoric], only when the user is very careful to use the analogy that in between ignorance and knowledge, as well as the words used in rhetoric.”37
7. Good arguments: analogy and production of pleasure
Length and composition are not delicious either in metaphor and change or in analogy (or paradigma) and enthymeme. The soul is not eager to a long and composed analogy, and cannot find any pleasure in it. In addition to that it happens to the souls that they do not find any pleasure in remote and composed metaphors.38 On the other hand, making analogies and enthymemes from obvious elements, which everybody knows and does not require any effort does not work in the art of rhetoric. Arguments like that would be ridiculous. Neither, should the meaning be, when it is expressed, inapprehensible or difficult to understand, nor should it be known from the beginning.39 One can easily construct a syllogism from the things that are very obvious but this would not be pleasurable, as well as one can make people understand by using the true words (non metaphorical of changed), but nobody can get any pleasure from them. If this is so, the good words and arguments that should be used in rhetoric are those that bring two things together: a good quality of understanding and pleasuring. This can be achieved only if when analogy and change “mislead thought a little, I
mean they are understood after a small consideration.”40 Ibn Rushd allows only a small space for metaphor to mislead—not for the purpose of misleading, but in order to move the soul to think.
8. Imitations and pleasures in Poetics
The purpose of poetry is to imagine something or represent it by means of speech.41 The purpose of imagination is either a practical purpose, moving souls towards something or escaping it, or non-practical purpose, which is creating a strange (wonder), given to the pleasure that one gets from this imagination.42 In fact, one does not get pleasure from the content and matter of the imagination, but from the act of imagination itself. Thus, Ibn Rushd joins what al-Farābī has said in his Philosophy of Aristotle,43 but he underlines, in turn, what he already said in his Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric.44 Ibn Rushd stresses the distinction between the pleasure one gets from the things perceived and the pleasure one gets from intangible things. Food is delicious, but only when it is eaten. The art of decoration imagines sensible things, but it is not these things; I mean that one gets pleasure from imagination and not from the sensation. Imaginative speech, here, does not provide us with a complete perception, that is, they do not make us understand the essence of the thing, but it only represents it. But this representation is enough to get both pleasure, via the act of imagination, and knowledge via the image of the thing.45
Ibn Rushd presents, as did Aristotle, two reasons to the rise of poetry; both of them are combined with the notions of pleasure, delight, and joy. He says: “Poetical speech is an imaginative imitative speech.”46 Thus, to talk about the generation of poetry means in this context the rise of imitation and comparison. Ibn Rushd presents comparison and imitation as “natural,” or rather as something that exists for a mankind from the beginning of his life, I mean something that is practiced by mankind since his childhood and continue to do so, after his growth. One may realize here that metaphors of childhood are not those of maturity, and comparisons of children are not those of poets. What Ibn Rushd would like to focus more is that process that is calles analogy or comparison, which is “specific to the man without other animals.”47 Pleasure is the reason why analogy and comparison are a proper to the human; I mean that only man is he who gets pleasure in making analogy and comparing between the things. Thus, humans delight, rejoice and enjoy establishing links between things. Pleasure and happiness that felt by the humans are not associated to the senses like other pleasures caused by other desires, but rather are the fruit of this process of comparing and imitating objects. The comparison here is not means to get sensual pleasure as is the case of food or drink, but rather is the outcome of the analogy itself, the process of metaphor itself. Thus, this “abstract” pleasure which is free of “sense” and results from the process of analogy is
what is distinctive of human beings. For this reason humans use these imaginative means to make people understand and help them get some knowledge.48 The bottom line is that analogy in poetics is not only the cause of pleasure, but also knowledge. When one gets mastery of imitations, metaphors, and comparisons, the interlocutor gets an understanding
accompanied with an “intellectual pleasure”, which stems from smooth understanding of to that subject.
One can deduce two major conclusions: The first one is based on the data of Commentaries on Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics; and the other is from Commentaries on Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Plato’s Politics. However, the two conclusions find their epistemological background in Ibn Rushd Commentaries on Aristotle’s De Anima and Prior Analytics.
One may conclude according to the Commentaries on Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics that metaphor, change, analogy, and comparison are in the service of a kind of human happiness. Humans generally enjoy establishing similarities and comparisons, not only in terms of the
knowledge derived from these similarities and comparisons, but also in terms of pleasure they get from them. Analogy and comparison are delicious, and the pleasure they bring is not based on the sensible content, but rather on the process of analogy itself, I mean on the process of a move logically from known premises to unknown, and epistemologically from ignorance to knowledge, and psychologically from the sorrow of ignorance to the delight of knowledge. Rhetorical and poetical pleasures are pleasures of knowledge, whether natural or acquired.
Nevertheless, two purposes are juxtaposed in Ibn Rushd: the fist is linking pleasure with human faculties (and then, with analogy); the second is elevating the pleasure up to the purity and permanence of the intellect (the divine intellect). In sum, there are two kinds of pleasure, a human pleasure that one can gets by means of some arts like rhetoric and poetry, and some insight gained by comparison, imitation and analogy, which enhance the affiliation of the arts of rhetoric and poetics to logic. There is yet another pleasure, a divine one that only some humans can get only in rare moments. To achieve the last purpose Ibn Rushd linked the art of politics to metaphysics, Plato to Aristotle. One may say that it was a kind of “platonization” of pleasure. I reply yes, but only up to some point. Based on Ibn Rushd’s statements in his Long Commentaries on Aristotle’s Metaphysic and Plato’s Politics, one may sat that there was a kind of “Aristotelization” of Plato, perhaps by the help of Alexander of
Al-Farabi, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. translated with an introduction by Muhsin Mahdi. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969.
Averroès (Ibn Rushd), Commentaire Moyen à la Rhétorique d’Aristote. vol. II: Introduction édition et traduction et introduction et notes de Maroun Aouad. Paris: Vrin, 2002.
Averroes, Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s “Poetics”. translated and introduced by Charles Butterworth. Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1986.
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Halliwell, Stephen. The Aesthetics of Mimesis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Ibn Rushd, Tafsīr mā baʿd al-Ṭabiʿa (Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics). texte arabe inédit établi par Maurice Bouygues. Beyrouth: Dar El-Machreq, 1993.
Kemal, Salim. The Philosophical Poetics of Al-farabi, Avicenna and Averroes, the Aristotelian
Reception. London-New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003.
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Ralph Lerner. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974..
Rosenthal, Erwin. Averroes’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic. edition and translation E.I. J.
Rosenthal. Cambridge: Cambridge, University Press, 1956.
To cite this article:
Fouad, Ben Ahmed. “Ibn Rushd on Knowledge, Pleasures, and Analogy.” In Philosophy and Science in Islamic Contexts, https://philosmus.org/archives/894
On Recovering Ibn Rushd Interpreting Averroes: Critical Essays Peter Adamson and Matteo Di Giovanni (eds.), Interpreting Averroes: Critical Essays, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 262pp., $105.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781107114883.
Despite Ibn Rushd's fame and the abundance of writings about him, many aspects of his thought have not yet been, or are just beginning to be, studied in detail. This general impression emerges from reading at least some chapters of Fouad Ben Ahmed On Recovering...