Mon, Sep 21
Love is indisputably a key part of the good life. In this session, we'll consider the role that philosophy can play in helping us understand love of friends and family. We'll read Aristotle's beautiful meditations on philia (friendship) and consider the three categories of friendship he supposes contribute to our good lives. We'll also consider objections to Aristotle's view that the highest forms of friendship require virtue.
By the end of this session, you will:
- Understand Aristotle's argument for the claim that the highest forms of philia require mutual commitment to virtue.
- Debate objections and counterexamples to Aristotle's theory of love and friendship.
- Consider ways in which our capacity to love can or cannot be aided with technology.
- Develop familiarity about how contemporary virtue ethicists think about love as a virtue capable of development.
Excerpts from Nicomachean Ethics Book VIII
Complete these steps before you come to class
Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
- Aristotle thought we love our best friends "for their own sake," and that we have -- in them -- second lives to live. Some sophists thought this was crazy, and that all friendship was solely aimed at instrumental gain. Do you think most (or all) friendship aims at personal gain? Can you think of an example of a friend you love for their own sake (and / or vice versa)?
- According to one view of love we'll consider in class, love requires personal attention (in ways that can't be mediated by technology). Do you think this is right? What role does "being seen" (literally and metaphorically) play in love?
- Optional: test yourself by taking a practice comprehension check.