What is the meaning of Aristotle’s notion of the friend as an “other self”?
An etho-centric (as opposed to ego-centric) understanding of the notion, one centered on character, posits that the highest friendship is based on the friend’s valuable traits and draws on my love of my friend’s virtuous character. I care for my friend for his sake, not mine. The ground of my concern for him is the substance of his character, not its relationship to my character. Concern for the friend is the same in kind as concern for myself. Friends stand to each other psychologically as they stand to their own future self, and therefore they should care for each other as they care for themselves.
Jennifer Whiting’s recently collected papers on first selves (personal identity), second selves (friendship), and other selves (interpersonal love) sent me back to her seminal Monist 1991 paper “Impersonal Friends” and reminded me of her Aristotelian ideal of character-friendship which I have summarized here.
Friends who care for each other’s character also listen to music together and make music together. But what kind of music does their friendship make? What is the musicking going on between friends? In the resonant reciprocity of our mutual care, Pantelis Polychronidis and I echo each other like Florestan and Eusebius in the very opening of the 2nd movement in Schumann’s Kreisleriana (1838), op. 16 (below in 2:55-7:45).
March 26, 2017