Aristotle on Love and Friendship

In Christopher Bobonich (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 143-163 (2017)

Corinne Gartner
Wellesley College
Friendship (philia) plays a prominent role in Aristotle’s ethical thought. It is only within the context of his discussions of philia that Aristotle explicitly mentions acting for the sake of another’s good: friends, he claims, wish and do good things for one another for the sake of the friend. However, it is not clear whether Aristotle limits disinterested wishing well to the complete friendships of virtuous agents. I argue that he does not; friends of all varieties, to the extent that they are friends at all, wish and act well for the friend’s sake. I also consider whether Aristotle’s remarks on self-love and friendship might provide reason for thinking that love for others is and ought to be an extension of self-love. I reject the idea that love for a friend is justified by self-love: the virtuous agent does not care about the good of her friends only insofar as she sees those friends as her other selves.
Keywords Aristotle  Friendship  Friends  Love
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