philosophy of friendship

Philosophy of Friendship

30 July, 2020

Cranlana’s programs all draw on more than 2,000 years of philosophy, spanning both ancient and contemporary critical thinkers, because the fundamental concepts grappled with, such the nature of friendship, remain constant. Below are three pieces which consider the philosophy of friendship, specifically Aristotle’s thoughts on the three types of love – agapeeros, and philia — which endure as an insightful model for illuminating the nature of our relationships.

A principal fruit of friendship,” Francis Bacon wrote in his timeless meditation on the subject“is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce.” For Thoreau, friendship was one of life’s great rewards. But in today’s cultural landscape of muddled relationships scattered across various platforms for connecting, amidst constant debates about whether our Facebook “friendships” are making us more or less happy, it pays to consider what friendship actually is.

Philosophers and cognitive scientists agree that friendship is an essential ingredient of human happiness. But beyond the dry academic definitions — like, say, “voluntary interdependence between two persons over time, which is intended to facilitate socio-emotional goals of the participants, and may involve varying types and degrees of companionship, intimacy, affection and mutual assistance” — lies a body of compelling research that sheds light on how, precisely, friendship augments happiness. 

The Science and Philosophy of Friendship: Lessons from Aristotle on the Art of Connection, Maria Popova, Brain Pickings. Read the full article here.

Some of Aristotle’s most enduring observations relate to friendship. He regarded friendship as one of the true joys of life, and felt that a life well-lived must include truly meaningful, lasting friendships.

In his words:

In poverty as well as in other misfortunes, people suppose that friends are their only refuge. And friendship is a help to the young, in saving them from error, just as it is also to the old, with a view to the care they require and their diminished capacity for action stemming from their weakness; it is a help also to those in their prime in performing noble actions, for ‘two going together’ are better able to think and to act.

Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship Still Matters Today, Zat Rana, Human Parts, 6 December 2017. Read the full article here.

While Aristotle leaves room for the idea that relationships based on advantage alone or pleasure alone can give rise to friendships, he believes that such relationships have a smaller claim to be called friendships than those that are based partly or wholly on virtue. ‘Those who wish good things to their friends for the sake of the latter are friends most of all, because they do so because of their friends themselves, not coincidentally.’ Friendships that are based partly or wholly on virtue are desirable not only because they are associated with a high degree of mutual benefit, but also because they are associated with companionship, dependability, and trust. More important still, to be in such a friendship and to seek out the good of one’s friend is to exercise reason and virtue, which is the distinctive function of human beings, and which amounts to happiness.

The Philosophy of Friendship Aristotle on the Other Self, Psychology Today, 18 April 2012. Read the full article here.

Cranlana’s programs include the 2 day Executive Ethics, 6 day Executive Colloquium and year-long Vincent Fairfax Fellowship. We also deliver online and tailored corporate programs. Annual scholarships are offered to not-for-profits, start-ups and individuals.

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash