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Ciaramelli, F. (2001). Friendship and Desire. Free Associations, 8(3):368-389.

(2001). Free Associations, 8(3):368-389

Friendship and Desire

Fabio Ciaramelli

Translated by:
David Ames Curtis

Introduction: the Originary Mediation

The philosophical status of friendship needs to be examined starting from an investigation of the originary mediation. This mediation is to be interrogated inasmuch as it constitutes the properly political stake in the establishment of our social ties.

We must begin with our social relation, which is itself rooted in the originary mediation of desire. We do this in order to analyze the lived experience of friendship, which involves crossing the interval “from me to this other who is a friend.”1 Such a passage is paradoxical, however. It does not go without saying, since it is neither given immediately nor deducible from any preexisting unity. This passage attests, therefore, to the originary mediation of socialization, inasmuch as the latter is not accessible in any immediate way, since it is already presupposed in the very positing of social individuals.

The primacy of mediation is at the heart of the Aristotelian analysis of philia (friendship).2 In positing implicitly philia's strict continuity with phronēsis (as aptitude for a perspicacious grasp of particular cases), Aristotle, in book 8 of the Nichomachean Ethics, states that

philia and justice concern the same objects and the same personal relations. Indeed, it seems that in each koinōnia, there is a form of justice, but also friendship …; to the extent that there is koinōnia, to that same extent there is philia, and also justice. And the proverb, “among philoi, everything is in common” is correct, for philia is in koinōnia.3

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