the only easy day was yesterday

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Inspiration: Aristotle On Friendship

I am still knee deep in Aristotle, and will probably be up all night but these are some questions I came up with while reading that I'd like to contemplate... and you might like to entertain as well

Is the life i'm living being lived through incidence, or do I know how to act in situations because i am a "good" person?

Can a friendship exceed the defenition of friendship within a society?

for context of these questions it may help to read Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics Book 8 Chapters 9-12 for friendships within a society and Incidence versus a good person is laced throughout book 6 and 9 i believe


The W said...

for friendship i just read chptrs 9-12 and im not to thrill with the way he uses the word friendship. hes talking about human relationships in general and assigning the word friendship to anything that involves even a shred of personal connection. a king is not the "freind" of a subject, as he puts it. that seems silly. probably has something to do with the greek.

that said, it seems that Aristotle is going through these semi-personal relationships as defined by societal roles. thats fine as far as im concerned. the relationships he gives as examples are bound by societal definitions. however when that society is more open aka lacking a dogmatic/traditional culture there is more leeway in these definitions and expectations. especially when concerning actual friend based on modern/my definition. so in conclusion frienship/semi-personal relationship cannot exceed the definitions as proscribed by society because then they fail to be a part of that society (if it is tradtional). if it is open, then then definition will be changed to fit the new roles.

im probably not going to get to that other stuff on incidence...

Jasper Yate said...

maddy im eating your mashed potatoes again and theyre delicious. and im getting sleepy.

everyone is knee deep in aristotle. he thought and spoke about everything there is to be said and though about. all philosophy now really is to some degree a footnote to arstotle, we just continue to define and refine his ideas as we can. i was drowining in him when i read him and dont expect to be afloat from him ever.

at first glance it could be taken as a greek colloquialism, so to speek, and this is probably an acceptable take for the casual aristotle reader (can there be a casual aristotle reader). its a good question because it's the essence of what he's trying to get at. by using friendship in unorthodox ways, he challenges us to redefine friendship; but how? here's where he's a genious, he's doing it for us all along.

i think a problem with trying to define friendship is that its so ineffable. it's an individual experience. i am very happy knowing that anyone i meet is potentially a very good friend and treat people such when i am patient enough to do so. on the other hand i know of people who are very attached to defined types of affection and 'distributed' love. though it was worth a good first look from our good friend ari, im not sure that it needs much of a closer look, as it seems to be very individualized and i have no interest in telling others how to feel.

throwing 'good' in there made that question a whole hell of a lot more complicated. good sucks. as of now im predisposed to say that as humans serving our own interest is of the utmost value, and consequentially (and kantianly) to protect my own ability to seek out my and my close ones good, i must protect the rights of others to do the same, which involves not letting anyone violate anyone elses human rights. today, id say you know what to do because people figured out what to do with themselves in america, to a large degree. the problem also bleeds into that in being human you would inevitably have been part of the realization of what good is (today good is the protection of everyones human rights equally) had you been alive earlier, and that built into you and the way you operate in this physical universe and the way you think is a tiny peice of the puzzle, yet the full ability to realize what is good for everyone.

thats far from aristotilean. but i take a little from a few sides. im not into calling people good because of the conotations, but while at once you are good, and only because of the way in which you conduct yourself and the way in which society defines it today, you happen to be alive in a country thats gotten it all nearly entirely right in terms of human rights, so it's a more complicated question when a real sense of good for humanity actually pretty much is defined.

so yes you are living your life throuhg the incidence of your time, but it happens to be that your time got it pretty damn right, and right enough for you to fill in the blanks as an intelligent young person. it also happens to be that you are built such that the inevitable result of your combination of intelligence and sensibility will lead to this appreciation of equal protection of human rights, making you "good' in a sense.

i think a question that was skipped that may be of interest is the question of what makes a society, which in turn will judge right and wrong and create the incidental or possibly absolute ability to decide whether an action is right or wrong? are the immoral and ostensively 'bad' people part of this? lying is certainly wrong, buy people lie, are liars part of society? what effect does many individual's opinions have on the perception of good.? take an anarchists state; if the people were perhaps organized enough and stuck together and had the correct view of good, would people still rob people because of the lack of law? what do we do when we know that we are good?

explain your whole anarchy thing woman.

Maddy said...

I"m incredibly tired and want to wake up in the morning to play drums but a couple of things...

warner- in the explaination of friendships aristotle exaplins that there is a true friendship between "good" people... why doesn't he just qualify this as friendship then?

Also- I'm not comfortable with friendship only in context of society, as their can 1 be cross societal friendships, and two friendships that have more justice as they can exist and transcend a corrupt society.

I am jealous you're eating the potatos... I was thinking about them today when we talked more about intimacy in the context of cooking and coming up with you're own recipes. I got hungry for them. I am a little surprised they held up so well

I will write about anarchy soon since I talked to the girl who said " in a world solely organized by intimacy there will be chaos or anarchy" and was able to partially remember my stream of thought

as for the being a good person- I was aiming it more towards you thinking about it. As i've thought about it in context of myself, unless my being a "good" person, meaning rational, deliberate and temperate is largely subconscious, then i'm pretty convinced my knowledge of what to do is based on incidence. I don't really mean about human rights- but i mean I know what to do and how to neutralize extreme emotions of friends or know what is right for their moods. Kind of like how i improvise a secret ingredient for my mashed potatos. I was thinking about that time when we were snow hunting and I knew to let you drive so you had something to do instead of getting frustrated in your thoughts- or recently Devon was reallly upset because she got written up for people other than herself drinking in her room and I put a temporary tattoo of a butterfly I had on her face. It's kind of like I have all these strange collage items waiting without purpose until the right time comes and an application pops into my head. It seems random.

It's so much easier to write about myself than it is about my hazy tangent on anarchy

Jasper Yate said...

ah hah! you mentioned good, which i don't think is ever really meant to imply intuition towards friends in an aristotlean sense. it would seem in the case of friends that it is simply intuition on your part, i can't imagine that some disposition inside of you would allow you to judge exactly what to do for a stranger who was crying on the street. you confuse me.

The W said...

in the explaination of friendships aristotle exaplins that there is a true friendship between "good" people...
can i get a book and section number please?

Maddy said...

"Complete friendship is that of good people, those who are alike in their virture..." I mixed up the words true and complete, but i think it still captures the same essence.

It's in book a chapter three in the 1156b area.

The W said...

why doesn't he just qualify this as friendship then?
it seems as if from the title of chapter 3 (Three types of friendship), that this friendship is but one of those examples. your question appears to me to be frustration at the existances of lesser forms of friendship still being refered to as freindship by Aristotle. please let me know if thats not the reason fro your question.

but alas, he even states that some of these lower forms of friendship are not even freindship at all. in chapter 4 (comparison between the Types of Friendship) he states, "Those who are friends for utility dissolve the freindship as soon as the advantage is removes;; for they were never friends of each other but what was expediant for them." later in that same chapter he adds, "...only good people can be friends to each other because of the other person himself; for bad people find no enjoyment in one another if they get no benefit."

i am almost positive based on this last statement that hes not talking of a Platonic good, but rather good in the virtuous (which im not 100% on the definition of) sense. its not that me you and jasper are reflections of the good because of our non-utlilitarian freindship. were just awesome.

so going back to your question it seems he is in fact saying that freindship among good people is true freindship. that is, until he gets to his chapters 9-12...