Aristotle's Philosophy of Friendship

Aristotle's Philosophy of Friendship

Aristotle's Philosophy of Friendship

Aristotle's Philosophy of Friendship

Excerpt

The topic of friendship figures prominently in Aristotle's ethical writings; one-fifth of the Nicomachean Ethics and one of the four books that are specifically Eudemian are devoted to an exploration of the moral aspects of this personal relationship. Yet, until recently, commentators have largely departed from Aristotle's lead in the matter, choosing instead to concentrate on what they must have considered to be more weighty matters in the master's ethics. Moral philosophers, too, long tended to ignore friendship, though they lavished much attention on the moral obligations incurred by humans in their relationships with one another. Friendship thus remained in a penumbra, traditionally considered to be a philosophical topic in virtue of the ancients' interest in the matter, yet rarely since systematically explored.

It would be interesting to speculate as to the reasons which led scholars, and philosophers generally, to relegate friendship to the fringe of ethics. Yet such is not my purpose in this study. The task that I set myself is to contribute to the analysis and interpretation of the texts in which Aristotle treats of friendship. Although I have proceeded on the assumption that the study of most ancient Greek texts does not stand in need of utilitarian apology, I should justify the present endeavour on two counts. Aristotle's conception . . .

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