Eric Evans was the Archon of the Waltz Committee on campus. He graduated in 2014, but, much to our delight, lives close to campus and frequently visits his old alma mater.
The Question: What’s the relationship between existing and friendship?
The Text: Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics 1170B and Johnnie friendship
Laura’s the type of person who makes you believe beauty can save the world. Before St. John’s, she was a dancer, and played Bach cello suites on her ukulele on her off-time. When she came to St. John’s, she thrust herself into the Program with a vigor and faith that put us all to shame. By the time we graduated, she’d wrung more out of the Program than anyone else I knew.
Seeing Laura again, it occurs to me that she might be my only real ‘friend for virtue’—a term from Aristotle. Which makes me think back to an Aristotle alumni seminar I attended this summer. The question arose: “What’s the relationship between friendship and existing?” It may sound odd, but it looks like Aristotle’s actually pointing to one!
Aristotle claims that a friend is another self. But you know what’s another self too? Self-contemplation: you have to split yourself in two to see yourself. Where self-contemplation splits the self, friendship melds the two.
Further, for Aristotle, a thinker’s life is the only truly human life. So a thinker will have self-love because existence itself is inherently most lovable for a thinker. But friendship is also a kind of self-love if a friend is another self!
So: there’s a special kind of friendship between thinkers; a friendship—each person seeing the other as another self—where each person is self-contemplating—each person seeing themselves as another self. Each friend encourages the other to be a thinker by being lovable for being a thinker themselves.
And this is Laura’s wheelhouse. She’s taught me to respect my own feelings, read with an eye to larger wholes (is Don Quixote a response to Descartes?), and never stop reading Plato. I’d like to think we have the kind of friendship only possible between two people who love wisdom and seek it together. And now that I’m out bluffing my way through being an adult, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s something you’re only likely to find at St. John’s. It’s good to have you home, Laura. I have some Aristotle to share with you.
The adventure continues… @its.philosophy.time on Instagram