Embracing the half: Aristotle's revision of platonic eros and philia
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In this thesis, I am investigating the nature of e[rwV (eros) and filiva (philia) in Plato and Aristotle. I have confined this project to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (EN) and Metaphysics, with a background discussion of Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus. I will argue for the following claims. First, Plato's Symposium poses a dilemma with respect to the object and nature of e[rwV. The dilemma is that the objects of e[rwV must be either particular individuals or the Beautiful itself. Second, Plato's Phaedrus may be seen as Plato's attempt to solve the dilemma by giving a synthesis: e[rwV is a virtuous maniva and should be directed to particular individuals en route to the Beautiful. However, another problem arises; viz., given Platonic metaphysics, it is difficult to see how the lovers can genuinely love one another in and of themselves when the ultimate object of love is the Form of Beauty. Third, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics sees e[rwV as an excess of filiva. ErwV in human relationships must be avoided because it is seen as something bad and irrational, even though it is not a vice. The account of e[rwV and filiva in EN may be seen as Aristotle's attempt to propose another kind of solution to the dilemma by escaping the horns, i.e., by deprioritizing e[rwV in favor of filiva with respect to achieving the virtuous life. Fourth, this negative view of e[rwV does not appear in Metaphysics L. In 1072b3-4, Aristotle writes that the Unmoved Mover moves all things as being loved (wJV ejrwvmenon). The best interpretation of the phrase wJV ejrwvmenon is that the Unmoved Mover moves all things by letting them follow their nature. There is a shift of emphasis in Aristotle's philosophy from e[rwV to filiva, which brings another dilemma with respect to the objects of filiva, namely between filiva for particular individuals and filiva for the good. I will not try to solve the dilemma, but will try to circumscribe the issue.
Salim, Emil (2003). Embracing the half: Aristotle's revision of platonic eros and philia. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from