Aristotle, Hegel, and Nietzsche on Friendship

Robert R. Williams

in Tragedy, Recognition, and the Death of God

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744846 | DOI:
Aristotle, Hegel, and Nietzsche on Friendship

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This chapter compares Aristotle, Hegel, and Nietzsche on the topic of friendship, love (philia), and community. Walter Kaufmann maintains that Nietzsche retrieves Aristotle’s view of noble friendship in the figure of the great soul (megalopsychos) because it includes relation to other in the self-relation, and thus appears to avoid the opposition between egoism and altruism that Nietzsche criticizes. However, Aristotle’s praise of megalopsychos is ambiguous because its relation to others is asymmetrical. Martha Nussbaum criticizes this asymmetry as a-social, and claims that the Nicomachean Ethics is an extended polemic against the view that virtue and the good life could be purely solitary. Aristotle’s claim is that the good life, including all the virtues, is social. It would be strange to make the good life solitary, for no one would choose the whole world on the condition of being alone, since man is a political creature and one whose nature it is to live with others. Moreover, Aristotle cannot formulate his concept of friendship (philia) without bringing in the concept of recognition. Hegel not only gets Aristotle’s point, but also agrees with Aristotle that love, philia, friendship are the intersubjective origins and foundations of justice and ethical life.

Keywords: Aaristotle; Nietzsche; Hegel; Kaufmann; Nussbaum; friendship; philia; recognition; virtues; justice; ethical life

Chapter.  17639 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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