Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts

By David Baggett; Shawn E. Klein | Go to book overview

3

Voldemort’s Agents, Malfoy’s
Cronies, and Hagrid’s Chums:
Friendship in Harry Potter

HARALD THORSRUD

One of the surest signs of friendship is the willingness to help out in bad times. Those who stand by us through hardship, depression, and failure will certainly be there when things are good, too. Good friends are loyal and trusting and good friendships are admirable.

But it isn’t always wise to be loyal and tmsting. In Chamber of Secrets, Ron’s father offers some sage advice on this topic: “Never trust anything that can think for itself, if you can’t see where it keeps its brain” (CS, p. 329). One way of interpreting this is that we should be cautious about tmsting anyone (or anything) as long as we are unsure about his motivation. On the positive side, then, we should trust those who wish us well.

That’s true, but it’s not much help. If you haven’t had this experience, you probably know someone who has: you think you’re being treated well but in fact you’re not. Your friend may feel the same: he thinks you’re treating him well, but you’re not. Perhaps people in this situation are just using each other, or perhaps they’ve got some totally wrong-headed ideas about what’s good. In either case they might be right to trust each other, but this doesn’t mean that their friendship is admirable. So what exactly is it about a friendship that makes it admirable?

The Harry Potter books provide us with an excellent opportunity to explore this question. We’ll start with some corrupt friendships, and then turn to Hagrid’s friendships for some con-

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