Rediscovering Political Friendship: Aristotle’s Theory and Modern Identity, Community, and Equality

Those of us who live in liberal democracies do not tend to think of ourselves as connected to our fellow citizens by bonds of friendship. Most of us recognize special obligations towards our fellow citizens on account of our shared membership in a given society. We find it natural, for instance, that more of our tax dollars go to welfare programs within our own country than to overseas aid. But if pushed on why that is, we would be unlikely to invoke the notion of friendship. The concept of friendship seems to apply at a fundamentally different scale to the concept of citizenship: even in the era of Facebook, it still evokes relatively small-scale networks that tie individuals together on the basis of idiosyncratic affinities and histories. Aristotle, by contrast, gives a crucial place in his political theory to the notion of friendship between citizens. Was he simply using the word in a different way to us? Or might he, as Paul W. Ludwig suggests in the book, have something important to teach us?

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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