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A topic of moral philosophy much discussed by Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, but less so in the modern era, until the reemergence of contextualist and feminist approaches to ethics. In friendship an ‘openness’ of each to the other is found that can be seen as an enlargement of the self. Aristotle writes that ‘the excellent person is related to his friend in the same way as he is related to himself, since a friend is another self; and therefore, just as his own being is choiceworthy for him, the friend's being is choice-worthy for him in the same or a similar way.’ Friendship therefore opens the door to an escape from egoism or belief that the rational course of action is always to pursue one's own self-interest, although escaping through the door would require finding what is covered by Aristotle's ‘same or similar way’. It is notable that friendship requires sentiments to which Kant denies moral importance. It is a purely personal matter, requiring virtue, yet which runs counter to the universalistic requirement of impartial treatment of all, for a friend is someone who is treated differently from others. One problem is to reconcile these apparently conflicting requirements.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval).

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