This is my last post on Jennifer Whiting's essay, "The Nicomachean Account of Philia."
I haven't been focusing on her interpretation, because I do not find it illuminating as an account of Aristotle, and there seem better uses of my time than to quarrel with T. Irwin over "rational egoism".
I have focused, however, on her construction of particular passages. Why? Because I think the flawed character of her interpretation is revealed in her flawed treatment of the texts. And generally good interpretations are based on a skilled use of texts. "There is, of course, no escaping the hermeneutic circle", as Whiting says near the beginning of her essay, but the circle has to be drawn through the right points.
And I've given proportionate attention always: just as much as Whiting gives and even invites. "Note especially my rendering of sunōkeiōtai as 'familiar with' ", Whiting asked. -- And we noted it, especially.
My last comment concerns the sentence highlighted in red below. I give the translation just as it occurs in Whiting's essay. You've seen this before, but I give it again. I'll also restore the second half of the sentence at the end, which Whiting omits. (I'll highlight that in blue, to flag that it is not in Whiting's essay.)
Parents are fond of their children as being something of themselves [hōs heautōn ti onta], and children [are fond of] their parents as [themselves] being something form them [i.e., the parents]. But parents know the things coming from themselves more than their offspring know that they are from them [i.e., the parents]; and the one from which is more familiar with [sunōkeiōtai] the one generated than the one coming to be is with its producer. For what comes from oneself is oikeion to the one from which it comes ... but the one from which [the latter comes] is in now way [oikeion] to it, or less so. And [these phenomena vary] with the length of time [involved]. For [parents] are fond of [their children] immediately upon their coming to be, while children [are fond of] their parents only after some time, when they have acquired comprehension [sunesis] or perception. From these things it is clear why mothers love [their children] more [than their children love them]. Parents, then, love their children as themselves [hōs heautous] (for the ones coming to be from them are like other selves [hoion heteroi autoi], by being separated [from them]) (1161b18-29) [whereas children love their parents as the sources from which they have sprung] (Whiting, trans., in Kraut, ed., p. 289).Now as regards the sentence in red, other translators have:
I don't doubt that dozens of others could be brought in also, as rendering in the same way, viz. understanding Aristotle to be drawing a contrast in the sentence between maternal and paternal affection.
Rowe: "And these points also make it clear why it is that maternal love is greater."
Ostwald: "This also explains why affection felt by mothers is greater [that that of fathers]."
Rackham: "These considerations also explain why parental affection is stronger in the mother."
Whiting sees fit to disagree. She explains her disagreement in a footnote:
The point here is not (as Ross and Irwin render it) that mothers tend to love their children more than fathers do: the thrust of this argument (as distinct from that in IX.7) is that parents (at least initially) tend to love their children more than their children love them. If mothers are suddenly singled out here, that may be because Aristotle thinks (for reasons cited in IX.7) that mothers tend to love their children more than fathers do (n. 12, p. 303).And then it becomes clear that Whiting has missed the word "also" (kai/) in the sentence under dispute (e0k tou&twn de\ dh~lon kai\ di' a4 filou~si ma~llon ai9 mhte/rej) ; she fails to see, then, that this conclusion is additional to one that Aristotle takes himself already to have stated or suggested. And one might guess she was aided in this by her omitting (from her essay--but also from her notes, or in thought?) the last clause of the passage: since she omits this, she casts around to find the conclusion of the passage somewhere else; she thinks it must be in stated in the disputed sentence ("The point here is not.... the thrust of this argument .... is....."); and then this leads her to overlook the "also".
Am I picking on a small point? The point was large enough for Whiting to write an involved footnote in explanation. For my part, I'm willing to allow that Whiting's interpretation is distinguished precisely by what it has to offer in little observations such as this, and that interpreters, when they miss Whiting's point here, are just as wrong when they miss her point everywhere else.