12 October 2006

But This Cannot Be the Correct Reading!

At issue is the antecedent of ta_ toiau~ta below ("such things", in bold) at NE 1157a25. Whiting says that it must refer to good things that are found in the best sort of friendship, and thus the ou)de\n kwlu&ei ("nothing hinders") clause is giving a reason in favor of, not against, the classification of friendships for utility or pleasure as friendships.

I maintain, rather, the correctness of the usual view, that ta_ toiau~ta refers back to bad things, and thus the ou)de\n kwlu&ei clause is giving a reason against counting utility or pleasure friendships as friendships. This is the view that Whiting asserts "cannot be the correct reading" and is "obviously" wrong.

In favor of the usual view, I give four reasons, based on the larger context of the passage:

(1) The usual view makes better sense of the structure of the larger context, because then Aristotle is drawing two contrasts, which have an A-B-B-A form (see below for the appropriate parsing). Each contrast involves asserting something that holds only of a friendship that good persons alone can enter into (I highlight these qualifications in red) and then juxtaposing this with an observation about how other sorts of friendships are different. (Clearly it makes little sense to juxtapose "only" with "also".)

(2) In the passage below, Aristotle is giving his resolution of the first aporia he had raised at the end of VIII.1, viz. Do like persons, or unlike persons, become friends? Aristotle had stipulated there that moral qualities alone were relevant for deciding the issue (whether someone was a good person or bad), rather than physical or non-moral qualities (hot, cold, being of the same species, being a potter). His resolution is that "friendship based on [the qualities of] the other (di' au(tou/j)" is possible only between good persons. (Thus Aristotle sides ultimately with the view that like persons become friends.) The other forms, tellingly, are open to persons no matter what their character. This then leads to the contrast: what a friendship which admits only good persons is like, versus what a friendship which admits persons of any sort of character is like, given that bad persons can enter into such friendships. The sentence, e0n de\ tai=j e9te/raij ou)de\n kwlu&ei ta_ toiau~ta gi/nesqai, then, is offering an observation about the other forms of friendship that follows precisely from the fact that they are open to bad persons as well as good. Thus it suggests a point of contrast, not similarity, between the other two forms and the best form.

(3) The nature of the contrast suggests the same conclusion. Aristotle is claiming that certain modal attributes apply to the best form, in virtue of the fact that only good persons can enter into such a friendship: it excludes slander; it excludes distrust; it excludes injustice. In contrast, "nothing prevents" these things from afflicting the other sorts of friendships because, in contrast, these bad persons are possible subjects of such friendships (fau&louj e0nde/xetai fi/louj a)llh&loij). But the contradictory opposite of "not possible" is "not necessarily not", that is, "nothing prevents"). That is, because bad persons are not hindered from entering into such friendships, bad things are not hindered from entering into the relationship. Thus, far from being impossible, the phrase "such things" is quite naturally taken to refer to bad things excluded from the best sort of friendship. (Yes, some of its antecedents are implicit. But this sort of lack of complete clarity--if one may call it that--is hardly unusual in Aristotle.)

(4) On the usual view, one can also explain the ga/r clause. What is that giving the reason for? What is it hooking back onto? Whiting's interpretation cannot give a very good explanation (note too that she fails to render the concessive kai/ in i1swj le/gein me\n dei= kai\ h(ma~j). Yet on the usual view, the ga/r clause is easy to explain. It is meant to give the reason for Aristotle's own usage (referring back to e0nde/xetai fi/louj, highlighted in blue), given that, as the two contrasts acknowledge, bad persons can enter into the other two forms and bad things afflict such relationships.

{A} di' h(donh_n me\n ou}n kai\ dia_ to_ xrh&simon kai\ fau&louj e0nde/xetai fi/louj a)llh&loij ei]nai kai\ e0pieikei=j fau&loij kai\ mhde/teron o(poiw|ou~n,

{B} di' au(tou_j de\ dh~lon o3ti mo&nouj tou_j a)gaqou&j: oi9 ga_r kakoi\ ou) xai/rousin e9autoi=j, ei0 mh& tij w)fe/leia gi/noito.

{B} kai\ mo&nh de\ h( tw~n a)gaqw~n fili/a a)dia&blhto&j e0stin: ou) ga_r r(a|&dion ou)deni\ pisteu~sai peri\tou~ e0n pollw|~ xro&nw| u(f' au(tou~ dedokimasme/nou: kai\ to_ pisteu&ein e0n tou&toij, kai\ to_ mhde/pot' a2n a)dikh~sai, kai\ o3sa a1lla e0n th|~ w(j a)lhqw~j fili/a| a)ciou~tai.

{A} e0n de\ tai=j e9te/raij ou)de\n kwlu&ei ta_ toiau~ta gi/nesqai.

e0pei\ ga_r oi9 a1nqrwpoi le/gousi fi/louj kai\ tou_j dia_ to_ xrh&simon, w3sper ai9 po&leij (dokou~si ga_r ai9 summaxi/ai tai=j po&lesi gi/nesqai e3neka tou~ sumfe/rontoj), kai\ tou_j di' h(donh_n a)llh&louj ste/rgontaj w3sper oi9 pai=dej, i1swj le/gein me\n dei= kai\ h(ma~j fi/louj tou_j toiou&touj, ei1dh de\ th~j fili/aj plei/w, kai\ prw&twj me\n kai\ kuri/wj th_n tw~n a)gaqw~n h|{ a)gaqoi/, ta_j de\ loipa_j kaq' o(moio&thta:

------- Ross Translation (with changes)-------
For the sake of pleasure or utility, then, even bad men may be friends of each other (fau&louj e0nde/xetai fi/louj a)llh&loij), or good men of bad, or one who is neither good nor bad may be a friend to any sort of person,

{B} but for their own sake clearly only good men can be friends; for bad men do not delight in each other unless some advantage come of the relation.

{B} The friendship of the good too and this alone is proof against slander; for it is not easy to trust any one talk about a man who has long been tested by oneself; and it is among good men that trust and the feeling that 'he would never wrong me' and all the other things that are demanded in true friendship are found.

{A}In the other kinds of friendship, however, there is nothing to prevent (ou)de\n kwlu&ei) such things from (ta_ toiau~ta) arising.

For (ga/r) men apply the name of friends even to those whose motive is utility, in which sense states are said to be friendly (for the alliances of states seem to aim at advantage), and to those who love each other for the sake of pleasure, in which sense children are called friends. Therefore we too (kai\ h(ma~j) ought perhaps to call such people friends, and say that there are several kinds of friendship-firstly and in the proper sense that of good men qua good, and by analogy the other kinds.