On Friendship, Virtue and Blogging

April 4, 2006 | By | 1 Reply More

Aristotle wrote with great insight and clarity that maintaining friendships was a prerequisite to acting virtuously.

For Aristotle, to act virtuously was necessarily to consciously act for the right reasons.  But doing this requires bringing our non-rational parts into harmony with the rational.  Further, finding this harmony requires self-knowledge that we are helpless to obtain on our own.  We need each other in order to learn to be moral:

We gain transparency before ourselves, see ourselves . . . as if in a mirror.  We see our foibles and expose what we keep hidden from others.  This may lead to shame and moral renewal, but, more fundamentally, to a vision of ourselves that is more resolute and definite than our purely internalized view affords.  The issue is not simply that our own eyes are biased but, more generally, that the project of self-knowledge requires external dialogue and audience.  We need “to live together with friends and share in argument and thought” in order to be fully conscious of the sorts of lives we are leading.  Without this intimacy, Aristotle charges, the good person cannot fully appreciate even the pleasure and goodness of his life.  He acts in blindness about who he really is and, indeed, lacks true practical reason.

And thus we blog. 

[Excerpted from Nancy Sherman’s The Fabric of Character:  Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue, p. 27 ff. (1989)]

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Category: Friendships/relationships, Good and Evil

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Artemis says:

    Almost every time I teach a yoga class I remind my students that by acting compassionately towards ourselves we NECESSARILY act compassionately for all others.

    If we give ourselves an honest, yet kind, look, we make better choices about how we act, and more importantly, how we THINK. Actions follow thoughts and feelings; if we cultivate compassion within ourselves, we can only behave compassionately towards all others.

    Namaste

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