Aquinas argues that, simply speaking, spiritual pleasures are greater than bodily pleasures with respect to object, subject, and conjunction of the two. But he also argues that, to us (quod nos), bodily pleasures are more vehement. He also argues that, in itself, the pleasure of contemplation, unlike bodily pleasure, has no pain connected with it, but that, accidentally, pain is mixed with the pleasure of apprehension. The paper will consider his development of these arguments, first in his commentary on the Book of Sentences, and then in his Summa Theologiae.
Pleasure and its contribution to morality is a substantial theme on both Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae and its compendium by Gennadios Scholarios, the Byzantine scholar and patriarch of the 15th century. The analysis of delectatio is significant for the ethics of both philosophers. Pleasure, corporeal and sensible, is being distinguished by Aquinas and Scholarios in accordance with Aristotle’s distinction amongst pure and mixed pleasures. This paper seeks to illuminate the extent of Scholarios’ dependence on Aristotle and Orthodox Christian theology and to reappraise the long standing view that Scholarios’ arguments are merely unsophisticated comments of Aquinas’ works.
Margery Kempe tells her readers repeatedly that she wants her ‘servys’ to be ‘plesyng’ to the Lord. But is her service ‘plesyng’ – pleasurable – to Margery too? Can a posture of subservience and its attendant actions bring pleasure to the servant as well as to the master? How does the relationship between serving and pleasure change when the context is de-theologized and the service relationship is strictly this-worldly? Through a reading of Margery’s own account of her status as both servant and master in 15th-century England, this paper argues that late medieval service discourses provide a rich set of examples for the exploration of pleasure as a bi-directional phenomenon.