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« Discipleship vs Friendship - Part III: What Classical Writers Can Teach us About Friendship | Main | Why Phenomenology Matters to Theology: Part I »

March 16, 2005



Suppose we grant that from the time of Aristotle til today, the concept of friendship has fluctuated through various states of accuracy and inaccuracy. And suppose we base our position on a quick and rough narrative that begins with Aristotle. Here, we admit that largely his way of categorizing and evaluating friendships was correct, that his understanding of the function of friendship in a moral life was correct but maybe we disagree with Aristotle about the overarching meaning of human life. Next, we examine the various commentators throughout the ages on the concept of friendship. As in all conceptual scheme comparisons, we fall back on the richer system to evaluate the others for a variety of reasons but mainly because from it's foundation, it allows us to ask and answer questions that the other systems either can't formulate do to lack of conceptual resources or can't answer due to internal incoherence. So basically, we scrap alot of modern and postmodern understandings of friendship as mostly incomplete but occasionally insightful here or there.

So here we are in the present day and we're trying to find a way of thinking about the life and teaching of Jesus so we can improve the practical aspects of our life and live out our call to Discipleship. Is it really fair to say that the interactions of Christians with themselves and others(in friendships or relationships) is dependent in significant ways on better or worse conceptions of friendship?

Do you believe Jesus was an Aristotelian? What do you make of there being no record of Jesus referring to Aristotle or Plato? Aren't these obstacles to bringing Aristotelian thought to, for example, an evangelical christian audience? Would you draw on how thinkers in the middle ages tackled these questions?


Some relevant texts that should be treated in juxtaposition:
"...if there is a great interval of virtue or vice or wealth or anything else between the parties ...then they are no longer friends....And this is most manifest in the case of the gods; for they surpass us most decisively in all good things....[M]uch can be taken away and friendship remain, but when one party is removed to a great distance, as [the god] is, the possibilty of friendship ceases." (NICOMACHEAN ETHICS VIII 7 (1158b33-59a6, Ross trans.)
"...the friend is another self."(IX 9 1170b)
"Asked, What is the friend?, he answered, One [psyche] dwelling in two bodies." (Diogenes Laertius; LIFE OF ARISTOTLE 20, R.D. Hicks Loeb trans.)
The Chronicler reports a prayer of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and famed for magnasaltation, which refers to "Abraham Your friend (AVED)" (II Chronicles 20:7); the later Isaiah conveys the very word of G-d: "Abraham my friend" (Isaiah 41:8).
And finally, Leviticus 19:18: love your neighbor as yourself.

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