January can be a long, cold month for students - preparing for exams, reading books and waiting for the second Semester... In the midst of such thoughts, I have noted a lot in the philsophical journals, etc recently about the value of friendship - and the philosophical aspect of this.
[For an overview, see the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy on this at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/friendship/ ]
Much of the philosophical reflection on this matter comes from Aristotle's writing about it in his ethics (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/#Fri ) - and the notion that true frindship is love of another person in an intrinsic sense - that is, for the sake of that person or who they are, rather than for what they do/can do for you...
I particularly liked (and with an awareness of the fact that many of you will soon be doing the RPE202 Buddhism module!) the account of friendship given in the Mitta Sutta, [Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu]:
"Monks, a friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? He gives what is hard to give. He does what is hard to do. He endures what is hard to endure. He reveals his secrets to you. He keeps your secrets. When misfortunes strike, he doesn't abandon you. When you're down & out, he doesn't look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with."
He gives what is beautiful,
hard to give,
does what is hard to do,
endures painful, ill-spoken words.
His secrets he tells you,
your secrets he keeps.
When misfortunes strike,
he doesn't abandon you;
when you're down & out,
doesn't look down on you.
A person in whom these traits are found,
is a friend to be cultivated
by anyone wanting a friend.
I wonder where we should place friendship in an ethical framework?
Some may worry that it is a way of ignoring what we should do, and favouring those close to us at the expense of others. Might we not though consider the kind of friendship described here as some kind of paradigmatic relationship that we ought to cultivate in realtion to all our dealings with other people?
Your thoughts on the nature of friendship are very welcome..