With Continual Reference to Justin Kahn.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Justin’s Line by Line Commentary on Aristotle’s Analysis of Friendship

(Sitting alone in the corner of COI’s B-Day Bash,wondering why sprout and comrade k and Ki Two were no shows, I turned to the old question of friendship. So many unanswered questions! My commentary now runs to approximately 20 volumes and I hope to finish it in the coming years.)

“For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods...”
Nichomachean Ethics, Book 8 On Friendship

“For without friends no one would choose to live.” (Interpretation I)
Having looked at the sorts of virtues which allow us to become just people The Philosopher starts spewing nonsense.
I would be happy to live without Friends. Matthew Perry was O.K. in it, but I feel the show was overrated and not nearly as interesting as either 24 or House. If Jack ever retires I don’t know how I would go on. But I could live without Chandler.

Of course there is another sense in which we could take Aristotle’s analysis of Friends. For some Friends is more than just a Television Show.

And it is to that we shall turn next.

“For without friends no one would choose to live.” (Interpretation II)
We can look at this statement by considering its opposite. Let us imagine what it is like without friends and see if the conclusion is choosing not to live. Of course, it is not possible to imagine all friends at all times in all possible circumstances. So we shall imagine a single friend and then arbitrarily generalize.

I have a friend who invited me to dinner. This friend says that it has been a while and why not, he’ll even buy me lunch at the Cheesecake factory.

In the guise of being helpful he explains why I should abandon my commentary on Aristotle—at least until maybe I finish one of my other projects. Like my Haiku translation of Dante. And how maybe I would be a better writer if I frequently wrote in caps lock, BECAUSE PEOPLE WOULD FIND THAT SO OUTRAGEOUS AND PEOPLE WOULD FINALLY LAUGH AT WHAT YOU WRITE. At the end of the meal, he can tell that somewhere between explaining to me why Audrey dumped me and making suggestions for what I should do better in my next relationship he has offended me. But rather than apologizing he says, it was fun and we ought to do it again.

The big question: Without this friend would it be possible to live? Or without this friend would I insist that Dr. House give me large doses of morphine?

The answer after about five seconds of deliberation is yes. True, I wouldn’t eat at the Cheesecake factory, but I could certainly afford grabbing something from Jackie Chan’s Wok. I love take out anyway, and for dessert I could always have. Well, I admit that if it weren’t for a friend paying for cheesecake, I probably would eat a dessert of considerably less quality. But does that mean I would die. No, not immediately.

Excursus I: On Cheesecake.
While not directly stated by the Philosopher it is obvious that the pleasure of Cheesecake is greatly enhanced when it is bought for you and greatly diminished when you are put in a situation where there is even a remote possibility that you have to pay for it yourself. How can anyone enjoy a $7.50 slice of cheesecake? Especially when they don’t have a book deal. The blog pays enough to get by, but not nearly enough to put you in the $7.50 for a Cheesecake-is-just-fine-mode. So the problem of obtaining cheesecake without friends is one of the fundamental problems of living without friends.

Of course, with friends even the Merest Yellow Cake is just fine. But even sharing Yellow Cake isn't without its problems, unless you are made of Tupperware. Which I for one, am not.


Ki Two said...

Many thanks for the link, COI. I'll try to be there for the party next time. :)

Jenn said...

Your friend is quite amusing. And he bought you cheesecake. What more could you ask?

goldennib said...

I think that you started your arguement with a false premise: just because he bought you lunch and $7.50 cheesecake, it doesn't mean he is your friend. Obviously, he is not, as he spent your entire time together critisizing you unjustly.

Comrade Kevin said...

Justin's comments on friendship left me feeling a bit sad. Therefore, going into full Frank Capra mode I have attempted to post a "Its a Wonderful Life, Justin Kahn" on my own blog at http://comradekevin.blogspot.com/. Listed here, is the top 10 reasons why Justin Kahn will always be smarter and more funnier than me.

QuillDancer said...

Nessa, I feel Justin's premise was completely justinfiable.

Anonymous said...

hey,i love this page.


life just a good

Ken said...

I suspect you've misread the Philosopher. Maybe he's not saying: without friends, people would choose to die--but: given the choice to live (a) with or (b) without friends (or lovers: same word, in Greek), no one would choose option (b).

PS--The history of philosophy (according to me): Plato asked the questions, Aristotle answered them. Since then, there's been nothing but plagiarism or error, take your pick.

Maleah said...

Maybe "that guy" just meant that, like, if you had a house (or a penthouse) and it was all full of furniture and stuff (goods), you would probably WANT a roommate to split the cost. You know, choose to live with a friend. The cost of living has always been high, I'm sure. I mean, how else can you afford $7.50 dessert?

confucious trevaskis said...

I was going to say sorry to intrude, but I'm not really.

I just wanted to say that surely,by giving you lunch and cheesecake, your friend had bought the right to be critical of you?

You entered into this contract of friendship with him knowingly and it is too late to complain about it after the event.

I think you're just looking for sympathy........

Ruthie said...

I would love to read a haiku translation of Dante...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think the definition of 'friend' has changed over the years, with the advance of internet technology. It's so easy these days to meet new people, and so many people all over the world. What does the word 'friend' mean to you? Perhaps I'm too much of an idealist, but I still think a friend is someone I can trust, someone who'll tell me when I'm doing something wrong rather than go around telling other people...

Perhaps the cheesecake offender didn't mean to offend? Maybe they were trying to help, but just did it in a clumsy way?