Anteros: On Friendship Between Rivals and Rivalry Between Friends

Dror Post
Columbia University
This dissertation is about friendship and rivalry and, particularly, about the connection between them. The main argument of the dissertation is that friendship, philia, and rivalry, eris, are interconnected and that the failure to recognize this interconnection leads to violence and destruction. More specifically, I argue that every philia, friendship, contains elements of eris, of difference and disagreement, and that the failure to provide a space for these elements within the philia relationship results in the collapse of the friendship. Similarly, I argue that every eris, rivalry, contains elements of philia, of similarity and communality, and that the failure to recognize these elements leads to violent and destructive results. I use the term `philia' here in a broad sense that includes different interpersonal relations like love, friendship, cooperation, solidarity, sympathy, etc., which are endowed with some gravity force that draws individuals close to each other and links them together. Likewise, I use the term `eris' here in a wide-ranging sense that includes various interpersonal relations like hate, rivalry, hostility antipathy, etc., which are endowed with a sort of repulsive force that draws individuals away from each other and divides them. I argue that somewhat similarly to Newton's third law of motion in the physical world - "To any action there is always an opposite and equal reaction." - also in the interpersonal world every interaction implies `opposite reaction'. So that, for example, friendship implies rivalry, cooperation entails competition, peace contains conflict, and trust presumes suspicion. To use William Blake's words: "Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human Existence."
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