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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

Postal Subscription Code 80-983

Front. Philos. China    2007, Vol. 2 Issue (2) : 291-307     DOI: 10.1007/s11466-007-0019-x
Confucius and Aristotle on friendship: A comparative study
HE Yuanguo
School of History and Culture, Hubei University, Wuhan 430062, China
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Abstract  Before and during the times of Confucius and Aristotle, the concept of friendship had very different implications. This paper compares Confucius  with Aristotle s thoughts on friendship from two perspectives: xin O?(fidelity, faithfulness) and le NP(joy). The Analects emphasizes the xin as the basis of friendship. Aristotle holds that there are three kinds of friends and corresponding to them are three types of friendship. In the friendship for the sake of pleasure, there is no xin; in the legal form of friendship for the sake of utility, xin is guaranteed by law; and in the moral form of friendship for the sake of utility, xin is guaranteed by morality; in the friendship for the sake of virtue, xin is an indispensable part. Both thinkers believe friends can bring joy to human life. According to Confucius, it is the joy of rendao N翋S(benevolence), whereas for Aristotle, it is the joy of Reason. There are many commonalities and differences between the two. The commonalities reveal some inner links between Confucian rendao and Aristotelian Reason. It seems that the differences between rendao and Reason are the differences between moral reason and logical reason. The comparative study is helpful for us to understand the two masters  ethics, politics and philosophy.
Issue Date: 05 June 2007
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