By Lorraine Smith Pangle

This accomplished account of the key philosophical works on friendship and its courting to self-love emphasizes Aristotle's exam of friendship within the Nicomachean Ethics. Lorraine Pangle argues that the problems surrounding this dialogue are dispelled once one knows the aim of the Ethics as either a resource of useful assistance for all times and a profound, theoretical research into human nature. The ebook offers interpretations of works on friendship by means of Plato, Cicero, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne and Bacon.

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Either we love the virtuous person’s virtue instrumentally, because we find it or hope it to be beneficial to us, or we love it as the flourishing of a kindred soul, whose company we crave because we feel incomplete without companionship, whose needs arouse our sympathetic concern, and whose excellence and happiness we enjoy vicariously, as in some way akin to our own excellence and happiness. Indeed, Socrates begins to suggest by 222b that a solid love for a kindred soul must also be a love of him for his goodness in important respects, or for the goodness which, being “akin” to him, is also “akin” to us (222c3–5).

In the absence of such evils, or considered apart from such evils, according to Bolotin’s reading, there may still be desires and pleasures, such as those surrounding human companionship. ”29 Bolotin takes as support for his view that there is a realm of desires independent of good and evil, and that the desire for the kindred is such a desire, Socrates’ statement that “there will be, then, whatever desires are neither good nor bad, even if the things which are bad cease to be” (221b5–6). 30 Socrates temporarily allows Menexenus to slip into the comfortable thought that there can be elements of happiness totally unshaped by evil of any kind, but by 221d6 he again gently reminds him that every desire is bound up with a sense of deprivation and pain.

Perhaps we as human beings can experience contemplation as joyful and good only to the extent that it offers the possibility of change, of the fresh consideration of things that before were not conscious to our minds, even if at some level they were known. 20 If, then, the possession of wisdom is only a condition for the human good and not the human good itself, even for those who love above all to think, it will be loved much in the way that other conditions of happiness are loved. 21 But in general, we seem to cherish the conditions for happiness only so long as they seem to us somehow fragile and uncertain.

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