Nancy Kendrick
Wheaton College, Massachusetts
Mary Astell’s theory of friendship has been interpreted either as a version of Aristotelian virtue friendship, or as aligned with a Christian and Platonist tradition. In this paper, I argue that Astell’s theory of friendship is determinedly anti-Aristotelian; it is a theory of spiritual friendship offered as an alternative to Aristotelian virtue friendship. By grounding her conception of friendship in a Christian–Platonist metaphysics, I show that Astell rejects the Aristotelian criteria of reciprocity and partiality as essential features of the friendship bond and that she develops a theory of friendship that is neither reciprocal nor partial. Further, I argue that Astell’s theory of friendship advances her feminist aims by providing a justification for female–female spiritual bonds in contradistinction to female–male marriage bonds. Astell argues that the female–female bond of spiritual friendship is sanctioned by God, and is, therefore, a divinely authorized alternative to the male–female bond of marriage. Through her theory of spiritual friendship, Astell marks out a central place for female–female bonds and provides women with a justification for resisting marriage.
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Reprint years 2017, 2018
DOI 10.1080/09608788.2017.1347869
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References found in this work BETA

Aristode on Friendship.John Cooper - 1980 - In Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. University of California Press. pp. 301--340.
Mary Astell on Virtuous Friendship.Jacqueline Broad - 2009 - Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies 26 (2):65-86.
Love of God and Love of Creatures: The Masham-Astell Debate.Catherine Wilson - 2004 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 21 (3):281 - 298.

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Citations of this work BETA

Astell, Friendship, and Relational Autonomy.Allauren Samantha Forbes - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (2):487-503.

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