Aristotle on Other-Selfhood and Reciprocal Shaping

History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4):319-336 (2012)

Anthony Carreras
Lone Star College
This paper concerns the status of Aristotle’s claim that a friend is another self in NE IX.4. Against the prevailing interpretation, I defend the view that Aristotle uses the other-self claim to explain how a virtuous person who values himself will come to value his friend, according to which 1) loving a friend is an extension of self-love, and 2) the conception of the friend as another self explains how the friend’s eudaimonia becomes constitutive of the agent’s eudaimonia. I argue that this view, properly construed, is defensible from two objections: that it is narcissistic, and that it is incompatible with Aristotle’s insistence that we value our friends for their sakes. According to Aristotle, virtuous friends become other selves to one another by engaging in a process I call “reciprocal shaping,” a process by which friends develop a shared character. If virtuous friends value one another on account of character as Aristotle claims, then they value one another on account their shared character.
Keywords Aristotle  Ancient Philosophy  Ethics  Friendship
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