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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Friendship

So, my big class was last night and the topic was friendship. We discussed the three different types of friendships as defined by Aristotle. Aristotle discusses friendship of utility, where two people get something from each other and then friendship of pleasure, where it is pleasing for two people to be around each other. Then Aristotle discusses the highest level of friendship, a virtuous friendship, in which the two friends both have ample virtue, and their friendship is about wanting excellence of each other, rather than pleasure or material gains. Our professor asked us if we have any virtuous friendships, and most of the people in the class felt that they did, which surprised our professor. He told us a little story about himself. The friendship that he feels is the closest to being a friendship of virtue is with a 78-year-old woman whom he met on the Internet. He has been e-mailing her back and forth, quite regularly, for the past six years. Apparently they are very close and he feels that he truly respects and cherishes her for who she is and the values that she holds dear. He has never spoken to her on the phone or met her in person. According to Aristotle, this could not be a virtuous friendship, because in a friendship of virtue, there must be some proximity of location and common activities shared between the friends. Of course, Aristotle could not have anticipated the Internet. Our professor asked us if we thought that his friendship could be one of virtue. Most of us felt that no, it could not be, because it is missing so much depth that in-person interaction adds to a relationship. I think he was a bit bummed at his class dissing his friendship. It made me think about my friendships, and whether they were friendships of virtue, pleasure or utility. If I look at my friendships honestly, I think that many of them are about pleasure, and a few about utility. But I do think that I have a few people in my life with whom my connection with them is about virtue, it is about absolutely wanting the best for the other, and not at all about what each of us get from the relationship. I guess I should consider myself lucky to have that level of friendship in my life, I do know that it is rare. I hope that I can sustain these friendships throughout my life, and cherish them for what they are worth.

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