Presentation on theme: "Plato’s Lysis (Part II) Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics VII Philosophy of Love and Sex."— Presentation transcript:
Plato’s Lysis (Part II) Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics VII Philosophy of Love and Sex
A definition of friendly love? “[a] That which is neither good nor evil is a friend to [b] good on account of [c] an evil to which it [i.e., a] is an enemy, for the sake of [d] a good to which it is a friend” (219B). If the son is sick, and the doctor prescribes wine for the son, the father (a: neither good nor evil) is friends to the wine (b: good) on account of sickness (c: an evil), for the sake of health (d: a good). Refinement: can omit the evil. Health would be valuable even if there were no sickness. [a] That which is neither good nor evil is a friend to [b] good, for the sake of [d] a good to which it [i.e., a] is a friend Puzzle: This seems to generates an endless regress of goods. A is a friend to B for the sake of C; A is a friend to C for the sake of D; A is a friend to D for the sake of E. Solution: Eventually we reach a case where good b = good d, and A is a friend to it for its own sake. Some things we are friends with for their own sake. What are these? Persons? Forms? Happiness?
The ending At the end, Socrates explores what it is that we desire—that which is natural to human beings. He is unsatisfied with his answers. The discussion ends with the paradox that we don’t know what friendship is even though we think we are friends.
Aristotle 384BC-322BC Plato’s most famous student teacher of Alexander the Great “Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the subject-matter admits of; for precision is not to be sought for alike in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the crafts. Now fine and just actions, which political science investigates, exhibit much variety and fluctuation, so that they may be thought to exist only by convention, and not by nature. And goods also exhibit a similar fluctuation because they bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage. We must be content, then, in speaking of such subjects and with such premisses to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking about things which are only for the most part true and with premisses of the same kind to reach conclusions that are no better. In the same spirit, therefore, should each of our statements be received; for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits: it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician demonstrative proofs.” (NE I)
Three kinds of friendship Friendship (philia) is a kind of love Love needs a reason—can’t just love pond scum unless one finds something loveable in it Three kinds of reasons for loving x: –x is good (character friendship) –x may or may not be good, but produces an actual good (utility friendship) a good feeling (pleasure friendship)
Differences In all forms of friendship, we wish the friend well… …but for different reasons: –because the friend benefits us when she is doing well (utility) –because the friend is more pleasant when she is doing well (pleasure) –because the friend’s doing well is good in itself (character) In utility and pleasure friendships, the other is fungible (someone else would do just as well if she was as useful or pleasant) In character friendship, we appreciate the other for who she is It takes virtue to recognize virtue, so only the virtuous can have character friendships
Permanence Which friendship lasts longest? Virtue (excellence of character) is lasting. Utility and pleasure depends on changing features of both lover and beloved
“Loving under a description” In Aristotle’s theory, in all three cases one loves under a description –one loves the other “as good”, or “as useful”, or “as pleasant”
Exhaustiveness? Do all kinds of friendship fall into this? What about a friendship between three Nazis, dedicated to the purity of the Aryan race? What kind of friendship is it?
Imperfect cases? We are not virtuous. Can we have character friendship? Without virtue, can we recognize virtue? Maybe it does take virtue to recognize virtue, but it doesn’t take the same virtue. A lazy person can recognize the value of Thomas Edison’s hard work—but only because she has some virtues (practical wisdom — “prudence”?)