IBN SINA AND MYSTICISM – Sample Book
The Nature of Happiness – IBN SINA AND MYSTICISM
The Eighth Class, which is further divided into nineteen short chapters, is primarily concerned with showing that happiness or the highest pleasure is a state resulting from goodness. The class opens by an attack on the common view that the highest pleasures are those of the external senses, while other pleasures are weak and nothing but objects of the imagination. This common view is considered a delusion.
The reason given is that even though sensual pleasures, such as having sex and eating food, are among the strongest of the pleasures of the external senses, one would still reject them were it a matter of a choice between them and something like victory in a game of chess or backgammon – victory being a nonsensual pleasure.
Ibn S-ma maintains that even a hungry hunting dog would prefer giving his master the prey he has captured to eating it himself. These examples show that both in human beings and in other animals ‘the internal pleasures are higher than those of the senses.”
A rhetorical question is then asked: ‘if the internal pleasures are greater than the external ones, even though the former are not intellectual, then what would you think of the intellectual pleasures?” Note that the internal and intellectual pleasures have already been described sometimes as ‘higher than those of the senses’ and sometimes as ‘greater than those of the senses’3 – in either case, what is meant is that internal and intellectual pleasures are better than those of the senses.
However, the only thing one can conclude so far is that internal and intellectual pleasures are preferable to those of the senses or sensual pleasures.’ The premise underlying Ibn Sina’s view is
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