By Lorraine Smith Pangle
This complete account of the key philosophical works on friendship and its dating to self-love emphasizes Aristotle's exam of friendship within the Nicomachean Ethics. Lorraine Pangle argues that the problems surrounding this dialogue are dispelled once one is aware the aim of the Ethics as either a resource of functional counsel for all times and a profound, theoretical research into human nature. The publication presents interpretations of works on friendship through Plato, Cicero, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne and Bacon.
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Additional resources for Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship
But being strong, resilient, and largely self-sufficient, he would not feel an insatiable longing for a perfect soul mate, such as Socrates claims (rather humorously and with evident exaggeration) to have craved all his life (211d7–12a7), for then he would be almost surely disappointed. Instead, he would deeply desire only such a degree and kind of friendship as, in all normal circumstances, he is assured of being able to find and enjoy by virtue of his own capacity to love, to admire, to take delight in, and to win the love of others.
To be sure, life holds unexpected pleasures, but may they not be unexpected simply because the lack that they answer is not present to consciousness at the moment it is met? Can we even imagine being alive and having no longings and no deficiencies? Does being alive not mean precisely being subject to changing feelings and wishes, to repeated cycles of want, longing, satisfying activity, satiety, fatigue, and new wants? These reflections perhaps help us to see the serious thought behind Socrates’ statement that a wise man would not love wisdom.
With this example Socrates prompts us to consider a component of human love that is not reducible to seeking a remedial good for oneself, and not in any obvious way reducible to seeking the good at all. 13 Third and finally, Socrates gives an important clue as to the incompleteness of his account of the good in the conclusion to the whole argument at 220d8–e5: Therefore, that friend to us, into which all the others were seen to terminate – for we asserted that those things were friends for the sake of another friend – has no resemblance to them.