Thursday, February 10, 2011


Although this statement is taken out of a context not directly relevant to the issue of friendship, I think it is enlightening, and I wonder how many live their lives as does H:

"Consider a friendless soul, call her H, who hears everyone talking about the great value of having friends. Never having participated in this unfamiliar value she sets out to do so. She is an extremely good mimic. She quickly gets the hang of acting towards people in seemingly friendly ways and quickly picks up what she takes to be a circle of friends. Not only that, but these people also regard her as part of their circle. All the time, however, her eye is only on the value of having friends.  She never thinks about her so-called friends in the way that friends do. Their joys and sorrows are never her joys and sorrows, their passions are merely embarrassments to her, and so on. She thinks about them as beings who satisfy her need to have friends. What she does not realize is that this way of thinking about them, this way of reacting to them, is itself incompatible with her haying friends.  She has no friends while she aims, in her relations with her pseudo-friends, at having them as friends.  Imagine H being asked, by an outsider to the circle, why she is friends with members of the circle. She says that it is in order to have friends. This only shows that she is not friends with them at all.  Her pursuit of the value of having friends is logically self-defeating.  Of course, H's basic problem is that she misunderstands the value of having friends.  Some will say that this example is one of evaluative error rather than self-defeat in the pursuit of genuine value. But our point is that H’s evaluative error lies precisely in her thinking that one can have friends in order to have friends. It is true that having friends is part of the value of friendship. But that is not a reason for performing any of the constituent acts of friendship."

No comments:

Post a Comment