Friendship and Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy 34 (4):411-421 (2011)
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Abstract

This article examines four contributions made by Plato’s Lysis to a philosophy course on friendship. These contributions are: first, the dialogue’s portrayal of the messy variety of friendships in ordinary life; second, the tension between what it clarifies about friendship through argument and what it reveals through setting and the behavior of its characters; third, how the dialogue focuses attention on aspects of friendship that often receive little attention in contemporary life—how friends talk with each other and friendship as a vehicle of moral cultivation; fourth and finally, the connection Plato recognized between friendship and the pursuit of philosophy. Friendship is not merely another topic for philosophy to investigate. The pursuit of wisdom is both enhanced by and exemplified in friendships of character. Philosophy has need of friendship, and friendship, as it deepens, inclines to philosophy.

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