Ancient Philosophy 29 (2009) ©Mathesis Publications

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Selves and Other Selves in Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics vii 12
Catherine Osborne
Of the several texts about friendship in Aristotle’s corpus, the most famous are books 8 and 9 of the Nicomachean Ethics.1 The others are Eudemian Ethics vii (one of four books in EE that are not in NE) and Magna Moralia ii. My focus is on Eudemian Ethics vii 12. In all these texts Aristotle notices an apparent conflict between the value of self-sufficiency and the value of relationships with friends. I try to explain why relationships with friends are precious to us, using Aristotle’s discussion as a prompt. I then ask the same questions about what the good person gains from encountering fictional characters in literature, and what kinds of literature would be beneficial to the good life. I shall reject the fashionable view that Aristotle thinks that the good man gains self-knowledge from having friends, and argue instead that the value of friends lies in looking out together at a shared world of experience. A friend, I suggest, is an extended self, because he stands alongside me and together we become enlarged by appreciating what is good and suffering what is bad. In the course of my argument I also suggest that the very idea of ‘knowing oneself’ is problematic, since the self in Aristotle is actualised only in the form of its thoughts and experiences, and not as a subject independent of the objects of attention. In Nicomachean Ethics viii-ix, Aristotle famously uses the idea that the friend is ‘another self’ to address various issues about friendship, including (at NE ix 9) the question of why one needs friends at all.2 In the Eudemian Ethics too, this idea that the friend is ‘another self’ figures in Aristotle’s discussion of why the good person needs friends. The relevant passage, EE vii 12.1244b1-1246a25, has drawn recent attention from scholars interested in self-knowledge and self awareness, because it appears to say something about how friends facilitate self-knowledge.3 This is the passage that I discuss here, but I reject the idea that it is about using our friends to get knowledge of ourselves, and suggest rather that it is attempting to explain why our lives are enriched by watching the world through
1 Although, in general, the term philia does not exactly match onto our notion of friendship (see Osborne 1994, 139-152), there is no significant misfit between them for the topic in EE vii 12. 2 Especially NE 1161b28-29; 1166a32; 1169b6-7; 1170b6-7. 3 Recent contributions on this material include Sorabji 2006, 233; Kosman 2004; McCabe forthcoming. Earlier contributions that pick up this theme include Stern-Gillet 1995, ch. 2, and Kahn 1981.

I. What was Aristotle talking about?

the eyes of a close friend, as we go through life together. The first task is to work out what Aristotle might have been trying to say in the Eudemian Ethics passage. There are two main problems here. One is the state of the text. There are undoubtedly errors in the transmission and many people have tried to improve the text. Some of this intervention, inevitably, reflects particular theories about what Aristotle ought to be trying to say. A second problem, common in reading Aristotle, is that it is hard to discern where Aristotle is reviewing the difficulties, or aporiai, in a way that is intended to problematise the issue but not solve it, and where exactly he turns to presenting his own view in propria persona. Unfortunately we cannot entirely disentangle these two problems, since our expectation about what Aristotle was trying to say will be affected by whether we think that he is offering a solution to a puzzle, or is still trying to set out the puzzles that require a solution. Let us begin, however, by explaining, in simple terms, what puzzle is to be addressed in EE vii 12. Basically, it is this. If the good person has friends, what does he have them for? For surely, if the good person is as near as possible to being like God, and God is a perfect and sufficient being who has no needs, then God will have no need of other people, and nor will the perfectly good person. What can friendship add to the perfect life of the perfect being? If it adds nothing, then the life with friends is no better than the life without friends. On the traditional reading of EE vii 12, Aristotle solves the puzzle by proposing that friends provide a way to acquire self-knowledge.4 There are parallels for this idea in Nicomachean Ethics 1170b5-14 and Magna Moralia 1213a20-24, both of which imply that it is only by looking at my ‘other self’, an external ‘me’ in the form of my friend, that I can see myself. Obviously we should concede at the start that there is a prima facie case for expecting the same motif to appear in the EE.5 These passages about the need for friends have attracted attention because of what they imply about Aristotle’s approach to the mind and to the idea of reflexive self-awareness. Scholars have found here what appears to be a rather uncartesian model of the mind, in which one does not have privileged knowledge of the self by introspection, but rather one can see oneself only in a glass darkly.6 As

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4 No recent commentator presents the crude form of this reading. Stern-Gillet 1995, 37-58 offers a sophisticated account of how self-knowledge is enhanced by seeing excellence in one’s friend. Her reading already recognises the importance of Aristotle’s idea that actualisation of the known object and of the knower are the same thing (on which see further below). The crude reading is best represented by Williams 1981, 15-16. 5 Consequently, the reader who wants (as I do) to deny that the idea of self-knowledge figures centrally in the EE solution has an uphill struggle. In principle, I ought to be able to explain why the other two texts do focus on that idea. All I can say is that I would like to give it a comparably reduced role in the other two texts as well, or if not in both, then at least in the NE (and then blame the author of the Magna Moralia for whatever strange prominence it acquires in that text). Perhaps that is a task for another article. 6 When I say that this model of the mind is ‘un-cartesian’ with a small c, I do not mean to attribute to Descartes the contrasting caricature, of a mind transparent to itself, but only to suggest

8 See Williams 1981. This is a point that Ron Polansky has helpfully urged upon me. This does not seem to solve the stated problem. be self-sufficient. citing Descartes’s Discourse on Method part 1 in support. against intersubstitutability. One reason is philosophical. though any one would do equally well. knowledge of oneself. It still appears to fail Vlastos’s requirement that one should value one’s friend as the individual he is. Self-sufficiency—or an approximation 3 . even if Aristotle thinks that self knowledge is all that we actually gain from having friends. which was how the perfectly self-sufficient person. as a kind of tool. if we suppose that a friend must be appreciated as an individual.8 However. not by showing that a selfsufficient person can indeed value his friends. If Aristotle meant that friends were valuable only in order to help us to see ourselves better. so the idea that ‘anyone will do’ is limited by those conditions. of which we each need one. instead of rejecting it. the truly godlike person. in its rather clunky version. and Vlastos 1981. the Magna Moralia puts it. 7 1213a20-24. after all. (on this construal) we would all benefit from a friend. for it turns out that there is no godlike perspective for us. which one cannot obtain by oneself. and if there were. it may make the Aristotelian position rather too simple-minded. because we cannot look directly at ourselves. the potential ethical implications of finding such a view in Aristotle have also featured in the literature. not as a member of a class. n100. Would this help to answer the worries? Yes. Since the Magna Moralia is probably not written by Aristotle himself. I am not sure whether Vlastos and Williams subscribe to these assumptions. On the other hand. for (we might think) surely the proposed solution will not work. there seem to me to be several prima facie reasons against supposing that Aristotle is trying to solve the self-sufficiency problem in the Eudemian Ethics by invoking our inability to obtain self-knowledge without a friend. bearer of a property or. Perhaps. we use our friends as mirrors. while ignoring altogether the question of what benefit they bring to us. Aristotle thinks that the perfect friend must be a good person and like myself.7 Besides the interesting hints of a strange model of the mind. can still need or enjoy friends. but by showing that there is no perfectly self-sufficient person without friends. since the other person seems to be serving merely as a means to one’s own ends. That seems rather to endorse the problem. providing one rejects either (1) the assumption that rational interests must be self-interest. there would indeed be no point in having friends. since it implies that we cannot. then. In fact Descartes probably did not hold that view.that such a view of introspective transparency is what commonly passes for ‘cartesian’. The idea also generates anxiety around the importance of the individual as object of love. in this case. rather than for some feature he has (assuming that we can make sense of this). we should say that such a ‘solution’ dissolves the puzzle. even if some Aristotelian source underlies it. After all. Yet however strict we make this condition it still means that I need either you or someone else who meets the criteria. this might look offensive to post-Kantian sensibilities. or (2) the assumption that rational behaviour must not be based on a mistake about value. instead. 15. it need not follow that our subjective reason for having friends is a lucid perception of their value in that enterprise. because without a friend we are not self-sufficient as regards knowledge of ourselves. Nor does it preclude the possibility that (in our personal relationships) we might treat friends as intrinsic objects of attention. It effectively concedes that there is a crucial part of knowledge.

then they can hardly be supposed to contribute to that account of the value of friends. so there is never a state in which we have no need of a friend. and obtaining mutual enjoyment and appreciation of the same object. presumably. Notes on these textual matters are given in the appendix. or if they are elucidations that he would himself endorse. Aristotle proceeds to problematise the conclusion a bit more: Or will it be the most self-sufficient person that will be good. then evidently. or not in the simple way that the mirror analogy suggests. In fact. I think something like this probably is the form that Aristotle’s eventual solution (or dissolution) of the problem does take. (c) that person will have no friends). 1244b1-29 . ‘Someone might puzzle over whether. of the self. and the verb gnorizein by ‘observing’. Few thinkers today would be satisfied with such a distant and friendless model for imitation as Aristotle describes under the concept ‘god’. as valuable for self-perception. if 9 I translate the verb aisthanesthai by ‘feeling’. Aristotle seems to bite the bullet in this case (see 1245b13-19). as we shall see in due course (see 1245b13-19). supposing that friends are sought on the basis of need. For if God is genuinely selfsufficient. I translate what I take to be plausible reconstructions of the text. Still it does not make the friend a tool for self-knowledge. All otherwise unidentified translations are my own (for the complete translation see the appendix at the end). something about shared perception.’10 The two premisses offered here seem straightforwardly to yield the answer ‘no’ (for if (a) to have friends one must have needs and (b) there is someone who has no needs. unlike us. occasionally dissenting from the OCT text by Walzer and Mingay.9 These motifs of shared experience do not seem very relevant to the idea that friendship is a way of turning our attention onto ourselves. he will still have no use for friends. For. 4 II. Evidently at the very least there ought also to be something else to add. oblivious. if someone were self-sufficient in relation to everything. A detour into the nitty gritty. but it might seem potentially uncomfortable for us. says he. If these passages are part of Aristotle’s proposed solution to the puzzle. Aristotle begins Eudemian Ethics vii 12 by saying that we need to investigate how self-sufficiency and friendship relate to one another. A second prima facie problem (for those who worry about such things) is that the question remains unsolved in the case of God. On the lacuna in the mss see n31. They are usually rendered ‘perceiving’ and ‘knowing’ respectively. he’ll have…any friends. So let us take a closer look at what Aristotle is really saying in the Eudemian Ethics passage.to it—can be achieved only with the help of friends. Aristotle’s point is about the sharing of experiences and sharing of impressions of the world in the context of a shared life together. Thirdly we should note—against the idea Aristotle answers the puzzle of the value of friends by appealing solely to their contribution to self-awareness—that our passage in the Eudemian Ethics refers several times to ‘shared feeling’ and other shared experiences in a situation of living together with a friend. 10 EE 1244b2-4. Rather they seem to allude to situations in which you and your friend are looking out together at something else.

12 Sorabji 2006. not a solitary unextended individual self. and that we can and do attain it. 5 . a34-37. but at the expense of conceding that we are not self-sufficient when in that condition. in partnerships that provide an extension of ourselves. the idea is a natural extension of the one I am concerned with. But there is a third. it will be incompatible with friendship.. and (b) to deny that the self-sufficiency aspect of that divine life is one that humans should or could aspire to. namely. I shall give less attention to the points at which Aristotle alludes to the emergent awareness of oneself as perceiver. <then>? For it’s not part of being self-sufficient to need the useful kind of friends. But the general gist seems clear: he thinks there is some reason to suppose that virtue (or being a good person) involves self-sufficiency. so that it is a larger self that attains it. nor the fun kind. however. So if happiness is linked to virtue. in practice it is an unattainable one. even if it is desirable for gods. (EE 1244b4-7) There are too many textual problems with this passage to be sure exactly what Aristotle has in mind. though I shall argue that Aristotle thinks that the life with friends is a kind of self-sufficiency. but we attain it together.12 Both these routes would grant that in a good human life we do need friends. For this person is good enough to share his existence himself with himself. nor the shared life. This is counter-intuitive. This tempting thought has two obvious exit routes. and the ideal life for humans is one that approximates to the divine life. but then virtue will be incompatible with friendship. especially her comparison with Aristophanes’ speech in the Symposium. dissenting from Aristotle’s suggestion that happiness or virtue involves self-sufficiency. by extension of the self to include the friends. 13 This is somewhat similar to certain claims in McCabe forthcoming. But since having a friend gives one an external self who is subject to the same experiences and feelings. Because my interest is in this aspect of friendship. (c) to say that self-sufficiency is indeed part of our goal. This may be partly to motivate the idea that self-sufficiency is part of the ideal of human success. notably the idea of broadening our subjectivity beyond the single viewpoint. for if God is a being without needs. I am using the term ‘happy’ to translate ‘eudaimon’ in the conventional way.13 To start with. 1245b1. 233 takes this line. This is close to what I take to be Aristotle’s own solution. less obvious.the virtuous person is happy?11 What need would he have of friends. then surely a genuinely happy person will be one who comes as close as is humanly possible to this ideal of divine needlessness. in setting up the problem. Compare the hostility to self-sufficiency in Williams. Aristotle proceeds to a brief discussion of God. exit route that I think we ought to be finding in this passage. see n32. namely (a) to affirm that although self-sufficiency is an ideal. And a thing of which he 11 On my emendation of the received text at this point. ‘anything’] he won’t have need of a friend either. 1245a5-10.g. 1981. and he is known to me as subject and I am known to him as subject. For it’s clear that since he doesn’t have any need of anyone [or. Aristotle just presents the divine model and asks about his need for friends: This is especially obvious in the case of God. for the closest we can come to selfsufficiency is never very close. e.

136 thinks that the aporia continues until 1245a28 where it is summed up.15 Whatever the status of this remark. he suggests that we should ‘investigate’ it. in fact at that point it would seem to be obvious that a friend is not for the sake of utility or advantage. 1244b15-17. On the textual decisions see n34. McCabe forthcoming suggests that 1245a11-26 reformulates the problems. and explanation of how it resolves the problems occupies 1245b9-25. The result is that while God may indeed be such as to need no friends. . (1244b7-15) The thought experiment is clearly not intended to be attractive. because any solution on these lines would eliminate some kinds of useful and amusing friends. As Kosman has suggested. this is not the end of Aristotle’s enquiry into the problem. and that they should become fewer.14 So it follows that the happiest human being too will need a friend least of all. for just as we are not sufficient in our thinking by merely thinking of ourselves. we are not. and hence rather undermines Aristotle’s otherwise plausible account of the many benefits of a life with all kinds of friends (the OCT text has chosen a reading on these lines).never has any need will not exist for him. Indeed his next comment appears to be a hint at some sort of (slightly premature) solution to the problem: ‘But. it turns out to be misleading in some way with regard to human life. Another way of reading it is as a further problem. Aristotle does not immediately begin solving the problem at this point. and he should set very little store by not just the useful sort of friends but by those that are worth choosing for the shared life too. The remarks that follow in the text (1244b17-21) suggest that Aristotle meant the former. One way of reading this remark is as a potential solution (even those with no needs can have virtue friends. 54-55. 16 Kosman 2004. in the way that God is self-sufficient when he thinks just of himself. although it is surely not meant to be a considered solution but rather part of the setting up of the puzzles.16 What he does is to consider whether we have been too quick to take the god model as convincing. 1244b21-1245a26. at 1245b28 and then again at 1245b13-19. So it follows necessarily that the person who lives the best will have the fewest friends. and Whiting forthcoming think the solution already begins here at 1244b21. Aristotle’s next remark rather suggests that he intends it that way. This seems to be what he thinks when he eventually does offer what he explicitly marks as the attempt at a solution to the puzzle. in any way. So we may read this argument as something of a reductio ad absurdum. but rather unpacks its assumptions. and that he does not value those whom he has. prior to a solution beginning at 1245a29. so also we are not sufficient in our lives if we live 14 15 6 On the textual decisions. for although there is some truth in what it says about God. except just in so far as it is impossible for him to be self-sufficient. and certainly not as much as someone who is less virtuous. and he shouldn’t make an effort to ensure that he has friends. see n33. a solution begins to appear at 1245a26-b9. though they cannot have any other kind of friends. By contrast Stern-Gillet 1995. In a new section. we are clearly still supposed to find it quite implausible that a good man has fewer and fewer friends the better he is. but for the sake of what makes him a friend by virtue alone’. so good people and god etc. at least in the case of human friendship. can have one kind of friend. Still. and our initial worry is at least diminished).

19 Kosman. as God can. lest there is something right about it. one more sensuous. and why are we not happy unless we have them? Let us return to Aristotle’s statement of the puzzle at 1244b21. Life with friends will be the same activities but done together with others. On the textual decisions see n35. and to that extent those who see Aristotle as moving towards a solution here are not entirely wrong. The puzzle. and the question is why it should be better if we do it together. So what are friends for. to perceive and observe. Shared life is doing these things together with someone else. it seems. and the best kind of human life. Well. in terms of the human goal. which is true in a way. it involves others. 2004 translates ‘co-living is co-perceiving and co-knowing’. For us. our good is located outside ourselves. this last mention of how something might be clear to those who have a grip on what human living is all about looks like a hint towards the solution. the other more intellectual. whereas that is not so for God. Still. however attractive this solution might be. It leads into a positive suggestion. it is not first achieved without them and then the friends added on top. Otherwise we shall still be mystified as to why human beings cannot live the solitary life. and be happy that way. namely. that life is a matter of consciousness of things outside ourselves (that is. ‘shared feeling’ and ‘shared observation’ are all one-word compounds composed by adding ‘sun’ to the front of the verbs that have just been mentioned as the activities constitutive of life. and how it’s the person’s goal. was wrongly set up in the first place: we were tempted into it by thinking that the perfect human life is like the perfect divine life. but I mean the feelings to be understood as responses to what is outside (for instance the experience of watching a play). 17 18 alone. I think part of the important point here is that human life involves awareness of what is outside oneself (unlike god’s life in which the object of awareness is himself). and something else that we’ve lost sight of as a result of this analogy (sc.18 and hence that ‘living together’ is going to be a matter of shared feeling and shared observation: ‘what it is to live in actuality. with God). The combination of aisthanesthai and gnorizein gives us two aspects of our contact with the outside world. even though God is (1245b14-19). but which is clear to those who have a grip on what it is to live in actuality. feeling and observation). and how it’s the person’s goal. But it is achieved with friends in the human case. I have chosen to translate ‘feeling’ and ‘observing’. But we should investigate this puzzle.1244b21-4. Aristotle must flesh it out with some account of what the good person’s friends are for and how they make a good life achievable.19 The terms for ‘shared living’. it’s obvious that it’s feeling and observing so it follows that shared living is shared feeling and shared observation’ (1244b24-25).17 Although (as Kosman noted) we are still elaborating what is tempting about the puzzle. as we had supposed. So after all it will turn out that there is no such thing as a solitary self-sufficient life for human beings. So the reasoning goes something like this: life is a matter of engagement in active awareness of the environment. So the question 7 . So these verbs of cognition are about being in touch with the environment: to be alive is to be aware of the surroundings.

and not to a shared activity at all. at objects in the world. 1244b26-29. we have just got a restatement of the difficulty. so as to reinterpret the reference to ‘shared feeling’ as a reference to apperception. at least in the later period of Greek philosophy. We should remember this. leading to the idea that the usefulness of friends is to be found in assisting us to come to know ourselves. in the way of cognitive achievements. and in this I would say it was deeply Cartesian and rather unlike the Aristotle that I shall go on to describe. available. According to this reading. but now it has been formulated to suggest that the puzzle is going to be answered (or needs to be answered) with reference to some kind of cognitive goal. which we took to be about shared feeling and shared observation. For one must 20 This reading still assumes that Aristotle thinks that there is a hidden self that we badly need to perceive. because the next bit of text is badly corrupted and hard to reconstruct. and this is what gives us all the innate appetite for living. There are two existing interpretations of the next part. we have no access to self-awareness except in the mirror of our friend. that self-consciousness is a result of friendship with another self.is. On such a reading Aristotle was illicitly suggesting. though one might wonder whether the use did not originate in this passage. but not proving. We can achieve this if we read sunaisthanesthai as meaning not ‘jointly feel’ but ‘be self-conscious’ (which is a recognised sense of the word. according to this interpretation. 1244b26-1245a10. in deciding how to reconstruct it. 8 . because (at least at first glance) these verbs seem to imply that we look out together with our friends. by sleight of hand. from ‘jointly feeling’ and ‘jointly living’ (one sense of sunaisthanesthai and suzen) to ‘apperception’ and ‘self-awareness’ (the other sense of sunaisthanesthai. what is the point of doing these things with others and not by yourself? Despite the appearance of progress. reads: ‘But for each person. the more traditional one. Thus we might suppose that Aristotle has equivocated on sunaisthanesthai so as to move. it seems. According to this interpretation. and we need to find some grip to hold onto. and the reference to ‘shared observation’ as a reference to reflexive self-awareness. That is. and perceive them alongside our friends. the next sentence. According to one interpretation. though there is not an equivalent reflexive sense of the ‘jointly living’ verb). What is it. Aristotle has a notion of the mind that is—according to those who favour this reading—distinctly un-cartesian (again using ‘un-cartesian’ here in the popular sense explained above in n6). the most choice-worthy thing is to perceive himself and to know himself. and the parallel passages in the Nicomachean Ethics).20 If we adopt this interpretation we need to go back and re-read the sentence just gone. that we cannot do adequately by ourselves but can do better in company? We need to remember this reference to shared feeling and shared observation. Aristotle begins to talk about the most desirable activity being getting to know yourself and perceive yourself. What is it to live a shared life? It is to share something of the same perspective on the world: to observe the same things and respond to the same experiences.

This thought leads Kosman to suggest that this sentence is still problematising the issue. or any of Aristotle’s readers should be disposed to assent to the idea that knowing oneself is the most desirable thing. the role for this other self now appears to have very little to do with the idea canvassed at 1244b24-28 that the desire for living is a desire for personal subjectivity and awareness. still no role for joint perceiving. and so there is still no point in having a friend. what has collaborative action 1244b26-29. Kosman’s account of the solution at 1245a30-35 is rather peculiar. who suggests (along these very lines that I have just sketched) that the issue is not about self-perception but about oneself as subject of the activity of perceiving. with tÚ aÍtoË afisyãnesyai. 21 9 . the puzzle about why we need a friend is not addressed or resolved until 1245a30-35. He puts a lot of weight on the idea of ‘another Herakles’. On his view. it seems to me. normal knowledge of external objects) are key parts of what makes life choiceworthy. We might translate as follows: ‘But for each person.’21 To yield this sense. We shall come back in due course to look at what the manuscript readings are before correction. this desire to know about what is around you might indeed explain our unanimous desire for life. nor why that should explain our appetite for life (and especially so if life is about looking out at the world. although to my mind it is not clear that the Plutarch passage does actually support this idea. when the solution comes. tÚ aÍtÚn gnvr¤zein. A rival interpretation of this part of the text is offered by Kosman 2004. as we have just been persuaded). 138. and that he be knowing. not someone else. reading tÚ aÈtÚn afisyãnesyai. or Aristotle. we might ask. or shared understanding. invoking a passage in Plutarch to suggest that this refers to collaborative action. Still. not solving it. For one must suppose that living is a kind of knowledge’ (1244b26-29. if the most important thing in life is to be the subject of one’s own (solitary) awareness.suppose that living is a kind of knowledge. and that if living is to be equated with being perceptually aware of your surroundings (rather than of yourself). what is most choice-worthy is that one should oneself be doing the perceiving. to make it talk about perceiving oneself. But do we want it to be about perceiving oneself? To my mind. for it is not obvious what ‘self’ there is to know. as the object of self-knowledge. to claim that perception and knowledge (that is. tÚ aÈtÚn gnvr¤zein and de› tiy°nai). For Aristotle’s puzzle is not resolved in any way by this proposal because there is. It would be more plausible. and this is what gives us all the innate appetite for living. although 1244b23 had implied that this was the key to the problem. it is not actually at all obvious why we. But in any case. and de› tiy°nai. the most choice-worthy thing is that he be perceiving. after all. or any situation in which someone else is perceiving. which is where the idea of another self is introduced. a number of corrections have had to be made to the text. reading the text as given in Walzer and Mingay’s OCT. So according to Kosman. It is particularly not obvious if you do not have a Cartesian notion of the self as the object of introspective knowledge.

but just about ordinary helpfulness. which introduces the idea that our desire for life is actually a desire for subjectivity. a perceptible object (or object of thought) that is itself actualised in being perceived. The subject of attention cannot become determinate in perceiving itself. Rather. The consequence seems to be that friends do not assist us with anything that is mentioned here as making life desirable. I want to suggest that Aristotle does not think that there is a determinate but hidden self there to be discovered by some means. or at least not one that makes any use of this idea of perceiving for oneself. for after all why should the justification of friendship have anything to do with being the subject of one’s own perceptions? According to Kosman. although Kosman’s interpretation of this preliminary passage. Rather it raises only further problems. but rather counts strongly against it. And perhaps this is right. in the end the reading seems to yield no genuine or satisfying answer to the puzzle. or not merely perception of the object of shared attention (so Sorabji). since the desirability of being the subject of perceiving does not in any way give us a need for friends. or to perceive a self doing some seeing. McCabe forthcoming follows Sorabji 2006. Thus it emerges (on Kosman’s account) that the other self is nothing to do with cognition or personal identity. contains not even the germ of a solution to it. that was part of the problem. To perceive that one sees is not to perceive an act of seeing. but it becomes determinate in the perception of a determinate object. by suggesting that self-awareness is not merely perception of oneself (so McCabe). Unlike Sorabji. Kosman is right that one’s own subjectivity comes into it. 236 in finding a third way through this chapter that helps itself to both alternatives.got to do with anything worth having in life (once we truly understand what is worth having)? Given that collaborative action does not pick up on the value of one’s own personal subjectivity. the self becomes actual and determinate only when the agent or subject actualises their agency or subjectivity. looks more attractive than the one that takes it to be about self-knowledge. and it involves both self-awareness—awareness that one is perceiving—and awareness of an object perceived. not part of the solution. So. although it takes as highly pertinent the comments that Sorabji 2006. or anything like that: it is to per- 10 . Instead we have to look for the need for friends in their contribution to action. 25-26 and 236 makes about the importance of the phenomenon of shared attention in human psychology. Kosman is obliged to say is that this elaboration of the puzzle at 1244b21. since there is nothing determinate there to be perceived. but includes both. as help in times when we are not self-sufficient in a practical way. So the fact that the chapter talks about both self-awareness and shared outlooks is compatible with the idea that Aristotle has quite a rich understanding of what shared attention is. I want to suggest that there is a fourth route that is not identical to any of these. and on the other hand the self-awareness reading is right because awareness of oneself also comes into it. I am suggesting. According to these authors. Together these are supposed to yield some reason why it is better to share one’s life with a friend (although exactly how that follows remains somewhat opaque in both cases).

I suggest (starting from 1244b24): Well. unlike the other rival readings just surveyed. We should translate this tricky passage as follows. but this still need not mean that there is a generic sense that takes self as its object. But why do it in company rather than 11 . but also all other fine things such as music. and fulfilment comes that way. There is no such thing as awareness of oneself that is not constituted by awareness of what we are aware of. In the parallel passage at EN 1170a29 Aristotle does speak of the one who sees or hears ‘being aware’ in a more generic sense. and retaining diatiy°nai at b28. If these are fine things. then is achieved (whether alone or in company) by attention to fine things in the environment. 23 1244b26-29. then. and feeling the same and observing the same is what is most choice-worthy for each. be actualised as fine things. it’s obvious that it’s feeling and observing. 1244b26-29. so it follows that shared living is shared feeling and shared observation. And this is because the object of attention is what determines the quality of your thinking. the actualised agency that is actually constituted by the determinate objects that I. On my reading.22 So it is not that we are aware both of ourselves and of the object of attention. nor self-consciousness. It is for this reason that Aristotle always speaks of ‘seeing’ that one sees. This is not (not at this point) anything to do with knowing oneself.23 The solution. the whiteness. or a walking agent. and in our case the best objects (including God himself. for what one sees is not a self but the seen object actualised as seen. retaining tÚ aÈtÚ afisyãnesyai. the largeness. or a heard sound.22 Some considerations in favour of this position can be found in Osborne 1983. namely. a moment after mentioning the idea that shared living is shared attention (shared feeling and shared observation. Sufficiency. tÚ aÈtÚ gnvr¤zein. which emerges in due course at 1245a29 onwards. 1244b25) Aristotle is talking about how precious it is when those who live together direct their shared attention at the same thing. still something cognitive that can only be achieved with friends. as its objects. and reckon that here. then our perceiving selves will. The idea then leads directly to a solution that involves the idea that there is. building on 1245a18-26. actualised at the time of seeing. after all. and due to this the appetite for living is innate in all. ceive the object of sight. for the actuality of subject and object are just the same thing. Then shared attention to something outside ourselves is awareness of a sort of self. not in contemplation of the self alone as in the case of God. we should retain the reading tÚ aÈtÒ that appears in the vast majority of manuscripts at the problematic point we have reached. are jointly perceiving. and the external parts of myself that are my friends. in the process. as though subject and object were two separate things. not ‘seeing’. as opposed to a sense that has actualities such as the seen object. will take seriously the idea that we are oriented towards objects of attention outside ourselves. for living is organising some knowledge. plays and philosophical truths) are to be found in directing the attention to what is external to ourselves. although more could be said. that he is seeing or hearing or walking. namely.

in this kind of detail. an agent in the world. Instead I have attempted a sketch of how that project might look. That is. it would evidently be good to see how such a reading might make sense of the rest of EE vii 12 and the surrounding context. instead. and we see our friend engaged with those same things.24 In addition. because it provides an explanation for why the life with friends is a richer and more enjoyable life. by turning our gaze back to our own virtue and knowledge. ix 144. is that it enlarges the self: it enlarges the subject of attention (the self that looks out) so that we can have more of those experiences and occasions of agency that constitute our engagement with what is good. At this point.25 Having got this far. Aristotle’s reflections on the value of friends are interesting not just as history. especially 190a. the only actual self we have is the actualised objects of our attention. because our actual perceiving self is constituted by its objects of attention (both perceptual and intellectual) and becomes determinate in that way. What I want to suggest is that the view that I have attempted to diagnose in the Eudemian Ethics is attractive in certain respects as a contribution to ethics and philosophy of mind. Or. I propose to broaden the discussion. first to consider in its own right the idea that I have been attributing to Aristotle. would be both tedious and fiddly. but also as contributions to a debate that should still matter to us now. My thought is that rather than think that the friend helps us to see ourselves as objects of attention. The value of friends Xenophanes fragment 24 as quoted by Sextus Empiricus Adv Math. we should think of the self as the subject of attention and of judgement. to borrow an image from Xenophanes. Yet to pursue such a project now. and one who makes value judgements and discriminates. And secondly to look at how this might help us to understand the value of fiction. all of him thinks and all of him hears’.alone? The value of the shared life with friends. that the value of friendship might lie in the shared perception of a shared world. the effect of viewing fine things is that one becomes a fine self that is worth noticing. and in the extension of oneself to another sympathetic outlook. On this view. not just forwards. in the form of an annotated translation of the whole text in the appendix. as 24 25 12 III. one one that can be noticed with profit by one’s companions. for such a difficult text. a perspective on the world. and we thereby have and notice our shared self engaged in fine and determinate things (see 1245a1-5 and a5-10). Life. To borrow the image from Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium 189c-193d. I suggest. in such a way that one’s perspective is both broadened and yet not divided or frustrated. we can get closer to being in that ideal godlike condition in which ‘all of him sees. while retaining the sense that friends are not merely instrumental tools for our own betterment. by looking out with a friend I can look out from the eyes of the other half of myself and see (so to speak) both ways. which McCabe uses to good effect in her treatment of this passage. . but if these are good and determinate our friend sees us engaged with those. what I am is a way of seeing the world.

by contrast with the object of psychologists’ study. Wittgenstein borrowed this idea that the eye is not part of its visual field from Schopenhauer. consist of that way of seeing things. We might compare the remarks of Wittgenstein at Tractatus 5. Now. over and above the object of thought. If. we might ask. Aristotle thinks of the self as what is actualised as the perceived object. then the self is not an additional part of the world that stands apart from the objects of our awareness. so that your judgements and discriminations are correct and sound. But I think it would be better to say that he is precisely not saying that there is some metaphysical self or soul of the Cartesian sort. consists in perceiving and making discriminations (as well as some other things). Wittgenstein said that there is just the limit of the seeing. he does mention mutual practical agency as a second best (1245b7). we can think of the subject as nothing over and above what is seen. ‘The philosophical self is not the human being. how can I become a virtuous person? If we follow the line that I have been exploring. but rather the metaphysical subject. as a perceiver and discriminator. and thinking of oneself as thinker would have no other content than thinking of the thought that is currently (or perhaps has been) the object of attention. and one whose perspective I can come to share. so the friend is another outlook. on the grounds that it takes a utilitarian approach to friendship. There is just the world as perceived from where I stand. Aristotle holds that objects of perception are potential until perceived. The actual self is constituted in the actualisation of the object seen. What he calls ‘the metaphysical self’ is nothing more than that. But the point remains: why would I choose to have friends if. Here Wittgenstein refers to this subject as ‘metaphysical’. I am making sound judgements of what has genuine value. but whereas Schopenhauer inferred that there is an eye that is the subject of the seeing (Mounce 1997).641. and so too our senses 13 . ex hypothesi.28 26 Although it is the cognitive attention to the world that interests Aristotle particularly and has the highest value in his eyes. all by myself? 28 When I say there is nothing apart from the actual objects. In Aristotelian ethics such an alignment is achieved by habituating yourself to do what a virtuous person does and to see as the virtuous person sees. If to be a self is to be a point of view upon the world. not the human body. so that seeing oneself would be seeing the actuality of the perceived object. or the object of thought.Aristotle suggests. Once I have done that and become a virtuous perspective on the world. with which psychology deals. the limit of the world—not a part of it’ (see also Wittgenstein 1975. what would be the use of a friend?27 For I would not choose to have friends if they had no genuine value. It seems to me that in Aristotle. §47). from another perspective—another way of seeing the world. the answer will be something like this: You become a virtuous person by bringing your outlook on the world into line with the ideal way of seeing things. then that is also what ‘another self’ is. 27 We might want to reject the question.26 I. I do not mean that there is no potentiality. similarly. What value can they have? The next thought is that just as I am one outlook on the world.633 and 5. as I have suggested. or the human soul. either for me or in themselves. Similarly in thought there is no extra subject.

For in that case too. We mean that we can see how things look to them. standing alongside as it were. but a way of getting to look out at the world from that perspective. They extend ourselves. but someone who looks out with you on the same shared world of things and people—someone who perceives. . or the baby’s capacity to do geometry versus the sleeping mathematician’s capacity. because what seems private in ordinary life is often deliberately exposed by the author. IV. For it seems that when we read a novel or see a film we are invited to inhabit a world seen from another person’s perspective. But the main point remains the same: that the actual exercise of perceiving just is the occurrence of the actual object of perception. It is like another self. a window into their mind is not a way of looking into that person. Additional complexity can be added by distinguishing first and second actualities: the difference between a blind eye and a closed one for example. judges and discriminates with you. In fact. but one. So the book gives us more to see. So we find it relatively easy to relate to the character in the fiction as intimately as we do to our closest friends. We become enlarged. and a way to see it as through the eyes of a friend. The new perspective becomes our own. your friend will not be someone who looks at you in particular. Once the actualisation occurs there are then not two things. like you. He does not make that connection. though this does not mean that we value it for its utility. Literature 14 are potential until they are actualised as perceiving some actual sensory input. For there would be no story to read if what the characters were thinking and the judgements that they were making remained in their non-existent heads. The author sets out to lay it bare for the reader. In many cases it is a window onto a world that is quite unfamiliar to us. by enabling us to see more of the world and to see it through another’s sympathetic eyes. I suggest. Rather. or one to which. about our reasons for finding value in the people we encounter in literature. Nor does his account of the value of literature in the Poetics invoke the idea of friendship. Still. a world of experiences we have not ourselves encountered. we manage to come alongside. and we enjoy it for all those reasons. nor someone who looks at himself in particular.So if this is all that the self is. Subject and object are only potentially separate. and becoming. of course Aristotle does not ask. literature does this more obviously than real friends. it is just this that we mean when we talk of seeing into our friend’s mind. here in the Ethics. when it comes to friends. So real friends will be real people who stand alongside us and share our values and our virtues. a world full of people we don’t know among our own acquaintance. it seems to me that we might try doing so. in our imagination. But. but there is not actually a subject distinct from its thoughts and perceptions. This allows us to see the world from a perspective adjacent to our own. in the way that we take a shared view of the world with the friends. It is tempting to say that the author gives us a window into another person’s mind. actualised in the shared experience of the very same set of objects in such a way as to become just like you. As regards fictional people.

and the virtuous person needs only virtuous friends. and to engage in a broader outlook. or she is purely imaginary. through whose eyes we could come to experience the world in a very different way? Would variety not be an improvement? This thought might seem plausible (in a way it did not seem plausible to Aristotle) if we thought (unlike Aristotle) that it was beneficial to see things in the way other people with very different values see them—for instance if we believed there were other standards of value that were both different from our own and also valid. If our human view is too limited. would it not be better if the author created a character who was quite unlike us. On such a view. by narrating the thoughts of another character. we could not enhance it by adding false or distorted 15 . For Aristotle. It is like acquiring a new friend. and enabling us to see things that we were not yet seeing. it is presumably not because it is just one view among many equally good ones. Such a model of virtue might well seem attractive to some. would such a fictional friend be more valuable if her way of seeing things were very different from the reader’s existing take on the world? Is there any reason to think that her outlook needs to be similar to my own? Aristotle’s assumption is that we like our friends to be like ourselves. Such a model of virtue would indeed value the place of strange and different characters (though perhaps not evil ones) in literature.besides its usefulness in enlarging our experience. By telling a story. say. things are not valuable because the virtuous person perceives them as valuable. then we could and should find value in friendships that enable us to step outside our own narrow take on the world (the view that currently constitutes my self). by describing a scene as viewed through the eyes of a well-drawn character. But now. in literature. would it not be better if the friends were coming from a very different point of view. we also value it (as we value our life with friends) for the intrinsic joy of perceiving more of the world. inviting her into someone else’s way of seeing it. presumably we would not benefit by viewing things through the distorting spectacles of a non-virtuous evaluation. in which various different kinds of value and various different kinds of interest would present the world under various different descriptions. we might ask. even a creation of mere fantasy. it can only be because it is only part of the fuller view of the world and of the best things in the world. a world lived through and with the other person. that we enjoy the company of those whose values are similar to our own. because he does not have a pluralistic or relativist model of value. that is the best available self for human perceivers. Rather the virtuous person perceives them as valuable because they are valuable. the author gives the reader a new take on a part of the shared world. she belongs to another time or another country. from where we are currently placed? And then. Yet if the aim is to enlarge our vision of the world. If we supposed that to be a virtuous person one should be open to alternative points of view. perhaps even an evil character. and one whom perhaps we could not have known personally because. So on Aristotle’s view. But that is not the model of virtue that Aristotle is working with.

Aristotle’s view might look too much like Plato’s notorious argument for censoring the dramatic portrayal of bad characters. both in respect of its idea that effective art infects the reader with a certain lively response. and who is not wholly in sympathy with our own emotions and responses. but see Osborne 1993 and (recognising that Plato’s rejection of poetry presupposes that it would have to be valued as knowledge) Geuss. and in respect of its condemnation of art that is merely designed to titillate or display the decadent tastes of its owners. to recommend a blueprint for social policy. like friendship. 2003. so as to rescue a role for works of art that engender emotion or encourage vicarious suffering on behalf of a character on stage or in 16 . there could be no value to literature that gives an inviting picture of a non-virtuous character. if anything. perceptions. and defends the idea that art that should have something worthwhile to say. which engages our fear and our pity.29 or the views on literature often unfairly associated with Tolstoy. could be valuable. as do our more unsavoury companions. in the Poetics. especially among those who think that he provides an answer to Plato. see Mounce 2001. and not just to explore the (potentially problematic and unattractive) consequences that follow from a certain hypothesis. His work is often misread. though we might enhance it by adding an intimate relationship with someone else whose sympathetic outlook on their world is as sensitive to truth and goodness as our own is (or indeed more so). and much has been hung on his one passing mention of catharsis at 1449b27. or by giving us an outlet in which to exercise them in a noble and purified way). for such censorship in his imaginary polis is undeniable. because it yields some purgative effect. that he has a theory. we can only infer that Plato himself recommends this policy if we suppose that the Republic is intended. offers one solution. and are of dubious moral value as a result? Shall we look for some other account of the value of fine portraits of quirky and evil characters whom we find engaging in our literary encounters? Aristotle’s own account. though we need to be cautious about what we attribute to Aristotle there too—for Aristotle says very little about what the point of literature is.29 That Plato presents an argument. and not harmful and weakening as Plato seems to suggest. in the mouth of the Socrates in the Republic. And we might think that to be satisfying. 30 Leo Tolstoy’s What is Art argues courageously against certain fashionable aesthetic attitudes of his time. I am here gesturing at work I have not yet published. But let us suppose. This has been a popular reading of what Aristotle means. For a sympathetic assessment of what Tolstoy really meant. for the sake of argument. but accept that we risk finding that our literary friends give us a less good view of the world. are we to do with it? Shall we retain the idea that literature. is beneficial and ennobling for us. This suggests that for Aristotle. and that catharsis is supposed to explain why the representation of tragic emotions in a character on stage. some way of cleaning up our emotions (whether that be by ridding us of them.30 So what. an account of the value of literature would need to make space for works that give an utterly compelling rendering of the world as seen by a non-virtuous character. without irony. can be a way of looking at the world through another person’s eyes. Then it might seem that Aristotle could say that identifying with the emotions and responses of a character who is not wholly good. However.

Literature will be life-enhancing if it enables us to see through the eyes of another good and interesting person. And if the novelist needs to portray some superficial or rebarbative characters as a foil for those perceptive ideals. in an analogous way. whose view of the world we are able to enter by living a shared life of joint perceiving and joint evaluation. Yet this still does not make use of the idea that we need to extend our perception and discernment of the world. it does not seem that Aristotle himself saw how literature or drama might do the same. there needs to be someone there who engages more deeply with the mysteries and horrors of life. So we might want to extend Aristotle’s account of what ‘living’ is ( EE 1244b23-24). he might say. 17 . Although not identical to the idea in the Eudemian Ethics of a second self that provides vicarious experiences and observations. if we think about it. but by looking out with it and seeing another person’s world. to add the idea that it includes feelings in the sense of emotional responses to events and disasters and not just cognitive discernment of things in the world. Still there will be no use for friends. whether real or literary. plays or novels that are merely. Perhaps. For surely it is true that a great work of literature will not be one that provides only trivial or repulsive characters. And is it not the case that when we do that.the narrative. perhaps it is true of friendship too. And if that is true of literature. are wonderful for us just in so far as they are another perceiving subject. we feel just a little closer to being like God: to being ecstatic in the literal sense. but at the same time one into whose mind we can begin to look—not by looking into it. Perhaps we might say instead that his notion of catharsis appeals. who have nothing to contribute to our deeper understanding of what genuinely matters and how the virtuous participant ought to respond. Is this a problem? I think not. imitative of the world we already know. whose take on the world is merely superficial. those close friends with whom we love to do and see things. If friendship is important for what it offers in that way. as I have suggested. and finding thereby a deepening and enrichment of the integrity of our own vision. But we shall still conclude that the best friends will be ones who extend our sympathies in ways that are both enriching and genuine. especially of shallow or unedifying aspects of the world we know. So. this would be a close parallel. Drama. provides a second self through whom we can experience vicarious emotions. and who prompts us to engage with them in the lives they are living. so to speak. trivially. those will not be the ones who take the role of friends in our lives. Yet we might still feel (with Tolstoy perhaps) that the vicarious emotions would need to be true to the world and appropriately measured if they are to be of value in providing a richer form of life than we can live by ourselves. to the idea of an extension of our emotional self. rather than our perceiving self. I think we might want to say that there is indeed no value in poetry. especially in so far as emotions are closely related to evaluation and discernment of the good.

and linking this clause to the conditional in the next clause by a comma rather than a full stop. The sense seems satisfactory without any supplement. so this creates a puzzle. but renders something of the apparent sense. 33 The text translated here is an emendation by the editors and is almost certainly wrong. then we all seek out those with whom we will find shared fulfilment. Von Fragstein 1974. There are several other problems with this passage. 34 Reading oÍ diÉ éretØn f¤low at 1244b16-17.. nor the fun kind. Still. It is not clear how to restore good sense (Whiting forthcoming. As far as I am aware no one has suggested this before. is no more secure than anything else it seems to me. Jen Whiting has forcefully pointed out that the editors have unanimously edited out what appears to be a reference to the master-slave relationship. It does not do much to improve the sense. t“ aÈtarkestãtƒ. in fact at that point it would seem to be obvious that a friend is not for the sake of utility or advantage. 32 I am reading aÍtark°statow at line 1244b4-5. he’ll have…any friends.31 1244b4-7: Or will it be the most self-sufficient person that will be good. <then>? For it’s not part of being self-sufficient to need the useful kind of friends. And a thing of which he never has any need will not exist for him. For it’s clear that since he doesn’t have any need of anyone [or. But then it seems he needs no friends. ‘anything’] he won’t have need of a friend either. it is hard to see why a master of slaves. A Translation with textual notes .g.18 31 Both the main families of manuscripts collated for Walzer and Mingay’s OCT text contain a space where I have inserted dots here. So it follows necessarily that the person who lives the best will have the fewest friends. supposing that friends are sought on the basis of need. if someone were self-sufficient in relation to everything. 344. archetypically someone who is not self-sufficient as an individual. criticising. roughly 12 letters length (C and L) or nineteen letters’ length in P. The translation given here is not the only possible reconstruction. if the virtuous person is happy?32 What need would he have of friends. and that they should become fewer. For someone might puzzle over whether. There is no clue as to what (if anything) might be missing. e. 344). Appendix: Aristotle EE vii 12. nor the shared life. including an instance of asyndeton regardless of where we punctuate. except just in so far as it is impossible for him to be self-sufficient. how they stand to one another in respect of what they can do. 1244b1-4: We ought also to investigate questions regarding self-sufficiency and friendship. which obviates the need to supply a definite article (ı) as in the OCT. but for the sake of what makes him a friend by virtue alone. See Von Fragstein 1974. Von Fragstein’s conjecture.34 1244b17-21: For whenever we are not in need of anything. should be used as a comparator for God or for the person with no need for others. and particularly people who V. For this person is good enough to share his existence himself with himself. 1244b7-15: This is especially obvious in the case of God. and he shouldn’t make an effort to ensure that he has friends. and as we know virtuous people have good friends and value them too.33 So it follows that the happiest human being too will need a friend least of all. but I am assuming that the thought is this: if the virtuous person is the happiest person he will also be the most sufficient person (since one cannot be happy if one is dependent). and he should set very little store by not just the useful sort of friends but by those that are worth choosing for the shared life too. 1244b15-17: But. The text is somewhat uncertain.

41 1244b35-1245a1: and out of these we have to draw the consequence that such a nature (sc.stand to benefit rather than those who do us good. that living is also good (as well as choice worthy). 37 Retaining tÚ aÈtÚ afisyãnesyai. It is hard to determine exactly what has gone wrong. I think the form of the argument is ‘Living is choiceworthy. It is not clear whether the subject himself is unaware of having been displaced from the body. 43 Reading t“ in 45a3 with Fritzsche and the OCT. 38 Something is missing in the text here. 42 Aristotle evidently points to the Pythagorean table of opposites on the wall of the lecture room. but which is clear to those who have a grip on what it is to live in actuality (kat’ energeian) and how it’s the person’s goal.g.36 1244b26-29: and feeling the same and observing the same is what is most choice-worthy for each.. though in practice it is such that you would notice). your own feeling and observing is more choice-worthy.39 1244b32-34: And the same for someone else living in place of yourself. and due to this the appetite for living is innate in all. 1244b21-24: But we should investigate this puzzle. 40 Taking •autoË in attributive position to be a possessive. 41 Alternatively. But reasonably enough. with God). The text seems to refer to some science fiction example that is not available to us. And we make a better choice when we are self sufficient than when in need. which is when we most lack friends who are good enough for the shared life. 1245a1-5: So if. 35 19 . it’s obvious that it’s feeling and observing. 39 Reading ényÉ aÈtoË. being choice-worthy) applies to them both in virtue of the same thing. and something else that we’ve lost sight of as a result of this analogy (sc. Therefore living is choice-worthy for the very same reason as the good is choiceworthy’.37 1244b29-32: So if someone were to slice off the knowing and make it a thing in itself [and not…]38 (but you don’t notice—that’s how it’s written in the story. so it follows that shared living is shared feeling and shared observation. and in b28 diatiy°nai. lest there is something right about it. in a table of this kind. The premises are to serve as the basis for the conclusion that is to follow.42 one of the two is always in the column of the choice-worthy. immortal souls).43 whence wanting to feel it is wanting it to be of I have taken this as a single sentence in which there is a contrast between the point that we miss (in lanyãnei) at b22. tÚ aÈtÚ gnvr¤zein. 36 Kosman 2004 translates ‘co-living is co-perceiving and co-knowing’. both what can be observed and what can be felt are in the column of the choice-worthy in virtue of their participation in the determinate nature (generally speaking). but may be a kind of brain transplant. What is choice-worthy is what is good (expressed as ‘The good is <identical with> what is choice worthy’). or the observers are unaware. for living is organising some knowledge.40 1244b34-35: What we have to do is combine two things in the story: (a) that living is [both] choice-worthy and (b) that the good (sc. is choiceworthy). not the object of the perceiving. or alternatively a thought experiment about out of the body existence (e. it wouldn’t be any different from someone else knowing instead of him.35 1244b24-25 Well. and what is clear (d∞lon) in b23.

1245a26-29: Well. Hence love seems similar to friendship.46 but not in the way that one most ought. and in virtue of this very thing. in virtue of being aware of an object of a determinate kind. This section appears to be about awareness of one’s own perceptual actualities in virtue of being aware of the objects of those actualities as the objects that they are. 47 Reading aÈtÒw with the OCT. like eating together and drinking together. 46 Reading suz∞n with the OCT. in virtue of feeling or observation (for in feeling one becomes an object of feeling in just this respect. for another the best of watching artistic performances. both how and of what. for on the one hand the learner isn’t himself in the state he should be in. 1245a22-26: And it has to be together with the friend. but friendship is the similarity. the story presents the first set of considerations as difficulties. We should start our investigation of the truth from this point. if you exclude language? But then sharing in any old language is another thing of the same sort. but for one of us it will be the best of bodily pleasure. 44 45 such and such a kind. and of the best he can get. firstly in respect of those things that are common to other animals too. this is something we want to be: we want to be an object of knowledge. the friend is supposed to be ‘another Heracles’. which would mean ‘for the good life’. and one wants this because one wants to be an object of observation oneself. 1245a16-18: At the same time it’s not possible for self-sufficient friends to teach or to learn. in the words of the proverb. but rather it’s the one that’s most akin in respect of nature—yet on the other hand one person is similar in respect 20 . or apart. but by partaking of the faculties. which is the class of the good.47 But things are scattered and it’s hard to find everything48 concentrated in one individual. to the extent that each of us gets a chance to do so. What difference does it make whether these things happen when you’re close together. So it’s clear that the presentation of the difficulties must have led us astray in some way. but in respect of feeling. to ourselves if not to anyone else. it does appear so—and all of us enjoy sharing good things more with our friends. for another the best of philosophy.44 1245a5-10: Since.45 So it’s for this reason that one wants to live for ever. That’s why they say ‘Far away friends are a pain’. 1245a18-22: Yet. because one wants to go on observing for ever. The mss have eÔ z∞n. One becomes an object of the same faculty as one is exercising because one is aware of exercising that faculty. for the lover longs for the shared life. and in the case of the teacher his friend isn’t. But in actual fact the second set of considerations is how things evidently turn out. then.Reading aÈtÒn twice in 45a4 with the mss. we are not each of these things by ourselves. 1245a29-34: For. in just the way that one first feels. 1245a11-16: Yet choosing the shared life might look somehow foolish when you consider it. Because objects of knowledge fall into the desirable class. and one becomes an object of observation by observing). 48 Reading pãnta with Richards and the OCT. Mss apart from one of the Latin versions read otow (render as ‘another this man’). So they mustn’t be apart when this is going on. another self.

1245b13-19: For the solution depends upon the integration of the analogy. I have translated by treating eÔ as shorthand for ‘it is well’. flourishing is extrinsic.51 That’s why we (should) go to the theatre together and dine together. and that the happiest and best person approximates most nearly to this ideal. which is a true one. though this does not seem good Greek. 1245b2-7: And if it is well for the person himself to live. 1245a37-b2: So it makes sense that one shares pleasure even in crude things. for that’s not the way God flourishes. This is sometimes an experience. sometimes something else. but for God flourishing is intrinsic. and observing oneself in some way.52 but are rather the fulfilment. Reading §ke¤nou with the manuscripts. and so also for the friend. and at the same time saying that ‘no one who has lots of friends is a friend’—both these are correctly said. For supposing it were possible to have a shared life and shared feeling with lots of people. with the complement being an accusative and infinitive. but it’s Punctuated with a comma not a colon after g°nesyai. 51 There seems to be something wrong or elliptical here. and among these they differ from one another part by part. the actualising of shared feeling has to be among fewer.49 1245a34-37: But none the less the friend is supposed to be something like a separable self. Because God is not such as to need friends. one might think the same applies to someone who is like God too. and that everyone wants that most of all. 1245b19-25: Looking and praying for lots of friends. For such convivialities do not seem to be for the sake of food and the necessaries. and for them to cooperate in their shared life. the story spun at 1244b1-21 and recapitulated at 1244b31 and at 1245a27. I think it is impossible to be sure what it really means. If that is not available. sometimes an action. as many as possible would be the top choice. but he’s better than to think of anything else besides himself. The reason for that is that it is always more pleasant to regard oneself in the superior pleasure. But each person seeks a shared life within the goal that he is able to attain. then they choose (a life of) mutual beneficence between friends above all. And the explanation is that for us. and that the shared life is pleasant to the friend (for awareness of that friend always comes at the same time)50 but even more so when one is enjoying the more divine pleasures. then the fellowship is especially among the things that are included in the goal. 1245b9-13: So it is evident both that we ought to live together. even though on this story the perfect man won’t be thinking either. But since that is extremely hard. So being aware of one’s friend necessarily (seems to) amount to being aware of oneself in some way.53 that was something that emerged for good reason from something that was telling the truth. but it must be something about the good life and oneself and one’s friend. But the fact that this wasn’t evident from that story. 52 Reading gãr at 1245a5 with Collingwood 53 Sc.of body. but it is hard to see how to emend the text. so that it’s not just difficult to acquire many friends (that requires experience). another in respect of soul. 49 50 21 .

and it is that on the one hand we completely avoid looking at our friend when he is in pain or in some shameful condition. 1245b26-31: And sometimes we want our friend to be away and flourishing. 22 . they are agreeing on doing extremely badly together rather than extremely well apart. and occurs for the same reason. but if it isn’t possible together—like Heracles’s mother would perhaps have chosen for him to be a god rather than be with her and in serfdom to Eurystheus. and typical of one you care for to want to take part. for the reason given. This occurs because of the things we said before. and wanting to be together is friendly. if one takes the extreme case.55 but then on the other hand seeing one’s friend is pleasant. and both these things follow for good reason. exactly as at ourselves. 1245b38-1246a2: Hence they prevent them from taking part. 55 This probably means we don’t like looking at him just as we don’t like looking at ourselves. and choosing to have a good time on account of their friend’s pain. 1246a10-12: There’s something similar to this in the case of misfortune. that’s what tips the balance of wanting him to be there or not. lest they turn out to be looking to their own interests. For sometimes we want our friends not to be present and not to suffer pain. since. So that whichever of these things is more pleasant. it’s clear that being together accompanied by a lesser good is preferable in a way to being apart accompanied by a greater good. Also there’s the fact that they are relieved not to have to bear the evils alone.also difficult to use them when you have got them. though they get the same things. But it is thought that one should not choose what is one’s own. whenever they’re not in a position to do anything further. 1246a13-19: There’s actually a good reason for this inconsistency. For they are particularly jealous that their friends should not be 54 This sentence seems to me to be corrupt since there should be a reference to ‘the one lot’ thinking one way. that’s what everyone chooses. or alternatively we avoid looking at him as if indeed he were ourselves. 1245b33-38: But it seems to be typical of one who cares to forbid you to take part in difficult things. For nothing should be as painful to a friend as his friend is sweet to him. For if it’s possible to be together and flourishing. on the grounds that they are having a bad enough time themselves. 1245b31-33: And likewise what the Spartan said in the joke. But since it is unclear how much the togetherness is worth. even if he is not in distress. just as they say that shared dining is more pleasant. as antecedent to the description of what the others think in the next sentence. when someone ordered him to call upon the Dioscuri in a storm. like any other of the most pleasant things. sometimes we want to take part in the same things.54 The others. 1246a20-25: And this happens in the case of inferior people too. 1246a2-10: But since success and togetherness are choice-worthy. don’t want that. on the other hand. But sometimes it’s most pleasant for them to be there. if one is in distress oneself (?). there are differences of opinion and (they) think that it is friendly to take part in everything together.

H. 1995. Von Fragstein. Proceedings of the 2006 Keeling Colloquium. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Wittgenstein. I am grateful for input from the audience at a conference on literature and other minds. if they are doing badly themselves. G. 1974. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003. just as one would if one recalled that one had once fared better. A. ‘Poetry and Knowledge’ Arion 11: 1-31. R. Osborne. C. Kosman.2: How do we perceive that we see and hear?’ Classical Quarterly 33: 401-411. ‘Aristotle and altruism’ Mind 90: 20-40. solipsism and thought’ Philosophical Quarterly 47: 1-18. Grüner. Tolstoy on Aesthetics: What is art? Aldershot: Ashgate. Proceedings of the 2006 Keeling Colloquium. in memory of Dick Beardsmore. ‘Persons. life and death. forthcoming. C.O. 2004. M. 2001. ‘Aristotle on the desirability of friends’ Ancient Philosophy 24: 135-154. 1983. than if one thought one had always fared badly. Albany: SUNY Press. Amsterdam: B. Studien zur Ethik des Aristoteles. A. 1981. 1993. McCabe.O. ‘Philosophy. . then one’s own loss feels worse. ‘A dangerous opponent of Democracy? Plato’s views in the Republic’ Omnibus 26: 8-10.R.doing well or be. Mounce. Osborne. L. in 2007. Osborne. Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship. Rhees and R. BIBLIOGRAPHY 56 That is. if one’s ‘other self’ continues and is happy. Leiden: Brill. R. 2nd edn.56 School of Philosophy University of East Anglia Norwich. 1997.A. Mounce. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Leiden: Brill. Whiting. Oxford: Blackwell. C. I would also like to thank MM McCabe for letting me see two drafts of her forthcoming paper on the Eudemian Ethics passage. character and morality’ in Moral Luck. Hargreaves edd. and Jen Whiting for a glimpse of her unpublished paper on the same text. Eros Unveiled: Plato and the God of Love. Philosophical Remarks. That’s why they sometimes kill their beloved along with themselves. Heinaman ed.M. For one feels one’s own trouble more. Sorabji. I have also benefited from helpful comments and suggestions from Ron Polansky and Larry Jost. Heinaman ed. J. 1994.12’ in R. H. Williams. C. UK NR4 7TJ 23 Geuss.O. Stern-Gillet. S. Vlastos. R. 1975. B. Self: ancient and modern insights about individuality. ‘With mirrors or without: self-perception in EE 7. ‘Keeling talk’ in R. ‘The individual as object of love in Plato’ Platonic Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1981. Kahn. forthcoming. 1981. 2006. ‘Aristotle De anima 3.

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