24 March 2007

A Distinction Ignored?

In a previous post I asked whether interpreters of ancient philosophy were handicapped when they ignored Korsgaard's distinction of distinctions.

Penner and Rowe ignore it, in their comments on that Lysis passage. But does this affect their interpretation? Here is what they say:

Socrates is not, as some suppose, ignoring his careful distinction between the because of (dia) what and that for the sake of (heneka) which, but rather making use of it. If it were true that the good would no longer be friend if the bad disappeared, then, if there is always something for the sake of which in 'friendship,' that something in this case must be (getting rid of) the bad--hence love is, on this view, for the sake of the bad (p. 134).
A couple of questions:

(1) Socrates twice characterizes the first object of love as that in which all other friendships, so called, terminate (ei0j o4 pa~sai au{tai ai9 lego&menai fili/ai teleutw~sin, 220b, also 220e). And it is clear that he regards the other friendship as only "friendships so-called", precisely because they lead up to something else. But then why should he be presuming, as Penner and Rowe allege, that "there is always something for the sake of which in 'friendship'"? (That is, when A is friend of B, then A loves B for the sake of something other than B.) That would be to hold that the primary object, the object of "real friendship", isn't the primary object at all. (And, notably, Socrates doesn't pull this out as part of his refutation.)

(2) Why are Penner and Rowe compelled to change what Socrates says? They have him claiming that our love for the first object of love is for the sake of getting rid of the bad (something good)--which Socrates does not say. He says it is for the sake of the bad, and he makes a big deal about that: "[other things] are called friends for the sake a friend, but the real friend appears to have a nature completely the opposite of this. It has become clear to us that it was a friend for the sake of an enemy." (Penner and Rowe's shift in their last clause from "for the sake of (getting rid of) the bad" to "for the sake of the bad" is surely unjustified.)