Friendship, Philosophy & January…

[I changed the picture, as the old one was a bit sickly…. – or so some visitors thought…]

January can be a long, cold month for students – preparing for exams, reading books and waiting for the second Semester… In the midst of such thoughts, I have noted a lot in the philsophical journals, etc recently about the value of friendship – and the philosophical aspect of this.
Much of the philosophical reflection on this matter comes from Aristotle’s writing about it in his ethics (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/#Fri ) – and the notion that true frindship is love of another person in an intrinsic sense – that is, for the sake of that person or who they are, rather than for what they do/can do for you…
I particularly liked (and with an awareness of the fact that many of you will soon be doing the RPE202 Buddhism module!) the account of friendship given in the Mitta Sutta, [Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu]:
“Monks, a friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? He gives what is hard to give. He does what is hard to do. He endures what is hard to endure. He reveals his secrets to you. He keeps your secrets. When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. When you’re down & out, he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.”
He gives what is beautiful,
hard to give,
does what is hard to do,
endures painful, ill-spoken words.
His secrets he tells you,
your secrets he keeps.
When misfortunes strike,
he doesn’t abandon you;
when you’re down & out,
doesn’t look down on you.
A person in whom these traits are found,
is a friend to be cultivated
by anyone wanting a friend.
—–
I wonder where we should place friendship in an ethical framework?
Some may worry that it is a way of ignoring what we should do, and favouring those close to us at the expense of others. Might we not though consider the kind of friendship described here as some kind of paradigmatic relationship that we ought to cultivate in realtion to all our dealings with other people?
Your thoughts on the nature of friendship are very welcome..
Dave
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6 thoughts on “Friendship, Philosophy & January…

  1. Hi David,
    a nice initiative you have here. I really appreciate it although I was surprised to be alerted to it by Philosop. At first I thought it a bit displaced there as a simple traffic fishing. But then I saw what you’re trying to do here. Congrats.
    It would be great if you could open the trackback function on your blogger account. This way I can comment on your entry in my own blog.

    Thanks a lot and keep up the good work!

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  2. Oh dear! Can we please keep friendship entirely out of a moral framework? It is not my duty to care for my friends; it is my pleasure. People who are ‘worth associating with’ are useful contacts, social workers, therapists or gurus. My friend may be a genius or an idiot, a saint or a sinner; they may be unreliable, unreasonable, unprofitable – but I like them., I may not even know why I like them, but if I do, that is a friend. It is only when dealing with people I don’t like that I need any morality, or any calculation of value. And that to me is the joy of friendship, that it does away with all the conflict of desire and duty, and the separation of me from another.
    Best wishes, bob

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  3. Oh dear! Can we please keep friendship entirely out of a moral framework? It is not my duty to care for my friends; it is my pleasure. People who are ‘worth associating with’ are useful contacts, social workers, therapists or gurus. My friend may be a genius or an idiot, a saint or a sinner; they may be unreliable, unreasonable, unprofitable – but I like them., I may not even know why I like them, but if I do, that is a friend. It is only when dealing with people I don’t like that I need any morality, or any calculation of value. And that to me is the joy of friendship, that it does away with all the conflict of desire and duty, and the separation of me from another.
    Best wishes, bob

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  4. Hey…good post…I went through the urls given and really liked all of them…how well-composed and though provoking! Thanks for letting us know another aspect of friendship 🙂 drop in by my blog sometime…it has got interesting stuff on friendship too 🙂

    Like

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