The Motive of Society: Aristotle on Civic Friendship, Justice, and Concord

Res Publica 19 (1):21-35 (2013)
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My aim in this paper is to demonstrate the relevance of the Aristotelian notion of civic friendship to contemporary political discussion by arguing that it can function as a social good. Contrary to some dominant interpretations of the ancient conception of friendship according to which it can only be understood as an obligatory reciprocity, I argue that friendship between fellow citizens is important because it contributes to the unity of both state and community by transmitting feelings of intimacy and solidarity. In that sense, it can be understood as an important relationship predicated on affection and generosity, virtues lacking from both contemporary politics and society that seem to be merely dominated by Post-Enlightenment ideals. For Aristotle, friendship is important for society because it generates concord, articulating thus a basis for social unity and political agreement
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