Talk by Enrico Piergiacomi: "Is pleasure the go(o)d? An outline of religious hedonism in the early modern period"

Friday, January 28, 2022 - 17:00
Philosophy Department
Enrico Piergiacomi will give a philosophy talk with the title Is pleasure the go(o)d? An outline of religious hedonism in the early modern period. Students and teachers are welcome.
Here's information about our speaker.

Enrico Piergiacomi earned the PhD in humanistic studies at the University of Trento in Italy, with a thesis on the atomistic theologies of Democritus and the Epicureans and their implications for ethics. He has a research position at Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, in Florence, Italy. He is especially drawn to the history of ancient philosophy and its relation to early modern philosophy, in particular when it deals with theology, ethics, and aesthetics. An interesting example is the revival of Epicurean ethics by philosophers such as Erasmus and Gassendi. Dr. Piergiacomi has written extensively in both Italian and English on a wide range of topics, including atomism ancient and modern, the history of medical ethics, and the thought of Plato and Aristotle about tragedy and comedy.

And here's his abstract / introduction.
Is pleasure the go(o)d? An outline of religious hedonism in the early modern period
This lecture provides an introduction to the history and the notion of “religious hedonism”, that is to say the theological-ethical perspective according to which: (A) religion can be a way to achieve true pleasure and well-being; (B) genuine religious experiences (worship, knowledge of God, etc.) are pleasurable in themselves. This view has been defended especially by some early modern philosophers, such as Coluccio Salutati (1376-1406), Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457), Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), and Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655), who in turn searched for a syncretism between Paganism and Christianity. Indeed, these thinkers recovered the hedonism of Plato, Aristotle, or Epicurus, while at the same time making it compatible with the truths of the Holy Scriptures. The main point, therefore, is that the Christian God created humankind in order for it to experience the kind of pleasure that ancient philosophers have identified in their ethics.