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Posts tagged ‘friendship’

Friendship, Part II: Aristotle and Romantic Friendship

Cross-posted from Genetic Method.

In my last post on friendship, I responded to my friend Ashley Vaught’s questions about the role of proximity in friendship in Aristotle.  I  consider some questions there about whether virtue friendship is possible when we are still on the way to becoming completely virtuous.  I was left wondering how we can ever become virtuous if we need friends to become virtuous but we can’t be virtue friends before we are completely virtuous.  Perhaps it isn’t just that friendship is impossible, but rather that our friends who help us become virtuous must be more virtuous than we are.  One possibility is that virtue in Aristotle unlike in Plato can be partial and always underway since virtue is practiced and requires a practice of ethical perception which is then limited based on our individual habits of seeing.  Against the view that friends become virtuous and then become capable of having complete and virtuous friendships with us, I think that Aristotelian virtue friends make us have more complete virtue because together we can see better, ethically speaking.  It is not lost on me that my exchange with Ashley over friendship in Aristotle illustrates how friends help us see more and better.  I appreciate the meta-ness of that more and better being about how friends help us see more and better.

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Friendship, Part I: My friends, there are no friends.

Cross-posted from guest blogging appearance at Genetic Method.

My friend Ashley Vaught sent me a long inquisitive email about teaching Aristotle on friendship. Let me just say to start that I really don’t like thinking about, writing about or teaching Aristotle on friendship. When I teach the Nicomachean Ethics, I rarely teach the friendship bits. I have always wondered what the philosophical point was. And as someone interested in how political life is foundational for Aristotle, I have bristled at readings that maintain that Aristotle’s account of friendship implies a pre-political ethical life. Moreover, I’ve never understood what the purpose of this account was except just explaining more about friendship. And what is the point of that? Do people read this and start pursuing more complete friendship? I can just picture someone sitting down and graphing her friendships to judge which friendships are complete and which are for pleasure and which utilitarian, I don’t know, to keep things organized? I don’t think it makes me a bad friend to not enjoy theorizing about friendship. But I do think good friends respond to their friend’s serious inquiries, so when I got a long email from Ashley about friendship in Aristotle, I agreed to have some thoughts. Read more