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Philosophers from the ancient Greeks on have traditionally distinguished three notions that can properly be called love: value in the beloved; it has come through the Christian tradition to mean the sort of love God has for us persons as well as, by extension, our love for God and our love for humankind in general.By contrast, ’ originally meant a kind of affectionate regard or friendly feeling towards not just one’s friends but also possibly towards family members, business partners, and one’s country at large (Liddell et al., 1940; Cooper, 1977a).Nonetheless, there do seem to be significant differences between, on the one hand, parental love and the relationships it generates and, on the other hand, the love of one’s friends and the relationships it generates; the focus here will be on friendship more narrowly construed.In philosophical accounts of friendship, several themes recur consistently, although various accounts differ in precisely how they spell these out.These themes are: mutual caring (or love), intimacy, and shared activity; these will be considered in turn.A necessary condition of friendship, according to just about every view (Telfer 1970–71; Annas 1988, 1977; Annis 1987; Badhwar 1987; Millgram 1987; Sherman 1987; Thomas 1987, 1989, 1993; Friedman 1993, 1989; Whiting 1991; Hoffman 1997; Cocking & Kennett 1998; and White 1999a, 1999b, 2001) is that the friends each care about the other, and do so for her sake; in effect, this is to say that the friends must each love the other.That is, I may love my friend because of the pleasure I get out of her, or because of the ways in which she is useful to me, or because I find her to have a virtuous character.
Most philosophers think not, understanding friendship to be essentially a relationship among equals; yet some philosophers (such as Friedman 1989; Rorty 1986/1993; Badhwar 1987) explicitly intend their accounts of friendship to include parent-child relationships, perhaps through the influence of the historical notion of .
(However, see Velleman 1999 for a dissenting view.) To care about something is generally to find it worthwhile or valuable in some way; caring about one’s friend is no exception.
A central difference among the various accounts of mutual caring is the way in which these accounts understand the kind of evaluation implicit therein.
Most accounts understand that evaluation to be a matter of appraisal: we care about our friends at least in part because of the good qualities of their characters that we discover them to have (Annas 1977; Sherman 1987; Whiting 1991); this is in line with the understanding of love as given in the first paragraph of Section 1 above.
Other accounts, however, understand caring as in part a matter of bestowing value on your beloved: in caring about a friend, we thereby project a kind of intrinsic value onto him; this is in line with the understanding of love as extent our commitment to that person is subordinate to our commitment to the relevant [evaluative] standards and is not intrinsically a commitment to that person.” However, this is too quick, for to appeal to an appraisal of the good qualities of your friend’s character in order to justify your friendship is not on its own to subordinate your friendship to that appraisal.
Indeed, that friends have a reciprocal effect on each other is a part of the concern for equality many find essential to friendship, and it is central to the discussion of intimacy in Section 1.2.