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The Elements of Aristotelian Philia

Philpot, Lawrence S (2021) The Elements of Aristotelian Philia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Aristotelian philia (“friendship”) is a complex phenomenon involving such diverse emotional, rational, evaluative, and motivational elements that it can be difficult to see how to put the pieces together. Aristotle himself brings together nearly the full range of elements in a remarkably rich passage in Nicomachean Ethics VIII.5. I use this passage as a guide in developing an account of hexis (“state”) as the organizing principle of philia. This passage involves a contrast between philia and philēsis (“fondness”), and I begin by arguing in Chapter 2 that philēsis itself is a more interesting and complex emotional condition than has been recognized. I then partly use this account of philēsis to argue in Chapter 3 that the consensus interpretation of the passage in NE VIII.5 is mistaken. Aristotle appeals to the involvement of prohairesis (“decision”) in philia to argue that philia is a hexis, and most commentators take Aristotle to refer to a kind of decision to reciprocate love that forms a philia. I argue that Aristotle rather has in mind the decisions which friends make regarding the good of each other within the context of philia. I then explain in Chapter 4 how such decisions imply that philia is a hexis by arguing that Aristotle recognizes a distinction between ways of having boulēsis (“wish”): The kind of boulēsis that is required for prohairesis must be had as a hexis, although not all boulēsis is like this. Thus I argue that philia is, roughly, being fond of one’s friend and having as a hexis on the basis of which one acts by prohairesis boulēsis for the good of one’s friend. Finally, in Chapter 5 I argue that this account of philia as a hexis helps us to further appreciate the way in which character philia, out of Aristotle’s three forms of philia, is primary: It is the only form in which one is related to the good of one’s friend—rather than one’s own pleasure or utility— in such a way that one’s relationship is itself appropriately called a hexis.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Philpot, Lawrence Sls.philpot@pitt.edulsp120000-0001-8654-6351
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWhiting,
Committee MemberThompson,
Committee MemberMcDowell,
Committee MemberStriker,
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 August 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 4 August 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 134
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aristotle, philia, friendship, hexis, prohairesis, boulesis, goodwill
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:17
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2023 05:15


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