Lysis, my friends, what is friendship?

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An examination of Lysis

Submitted: December 14, 2011

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Submitted: December 14, 2011



Lysis by Plato (??????)  features Socrates, and two youth Lysis and Ctesippus in a dicussion regarding the true nature of friendship. The oringla text can be found free here and I highly reccomend taking the time to read the orignal source.


Essentially Socrates listed four possible reasons for friendship:

1. friendship is between only the good,

2. friendship is bewteen the good and one who is not good nor bad, 

3. friendship is between the bad 

4. friendship is formed through some type of connection by the soul.;


In conclusion, Socrates and the others decide that the most logical answer is that friendship is between the good and one who is not good nor bad. For the bad cannot form friendships with one another, they lack the quality of compassion. The good do not need friends for they perfectly content by themselves. The ones who are not bad nor good need the good to hide from the bad, in the same way a diseased body needs a physician. 


I'd like to explore this concept a little more in the same format of Plato's writing. 


Characters in debate: Frank, and Justacityboy

Frank: After reading Lysis I'd like to explore the implications and validity of Socrate's statements. Perhaps through some examination we can finish what Socrates almost did. 

Justacityboy: A daring task that I myself meaningless for imagine the decades of philsopher who have tried to do the same and failed. What good will such a meaningless topic do anyways? 

Frank: I purpose of philsophy itself to continue asking. For if we give up, we may never develop a concise answer. In this case this matter can have a significiant impact on how we choose our friends. Especially since your acclaim yourself to be exisitenalist and one of the most important aspects is friendship. 

Justacityboy: I suppose it could be of some importance.

Frank: Great! Then let's begin. Socrates claimed that the good and the one's who are between good and bad can only be friends.

Justacityboy: That is what he said.

Frank: And he explains that the good cannot be friends with good because the good do not need or desire friendship.

Justacity: That is correct.

Frank: In other words, the good are perfect?

Justacityboy: Yes.

Frank: Are there any perfect humans? 

Justacityboy: No there are no perfect humans. But perhaps Socrates meant the good are in no desire for friendship because they are not dependent. There are many people out there that don't require friendship, hermits for example. 

Frank: Your right about that, and maybe that's what Socrates meant. But in the example you bring, a hermit, does not make any sense. I can understand someone who is lonly in need of the hermit, or perhaps in need of the hermit's wisdom. But would the hermit desire or need to help someone? They are perfectly fine by themselves afterall.

Justacityboy: Well, the hermit is good?

Frank: Yes.

Justacityboy: Is helping other's good?

Frank: I can see whre your going with this.

Justacityboy: Exactly my point. The hermit does not require friendship, but will befriend the one in need because he/she is good.

Frank: Well I could apply a similar argument back.

Justacityboy: Come at me bro.

Frank: Friendship is good? 

Justacitboy: Debatable.

Frank: Helping someone is good?

Justacityboy: Yes.

Frank: How does the hermit help the one who is neutral? 

Justacity: He befriends him. 

Frank: Helping someone is good. Helping someone is befriending them. Therefore friendship is good?

Justacityboy: Right, nice deducation. 

Frank: So we both agree that friendship is good. The good are good so they do good acts. So the good should be friends with the good because good is good, and friendship is good?

Justacityboy: I suppose if you looked at this way. 

Frank: In the same logic, wouldn't the good be friends with the bad? 

Justacityboy: I don't think so. If friendship is good, then the bad would not want friendship.

Frank: The bad in this case is whom? Socrates describes them as a retched, and lowley. 

Justacityboy: Criminals perhaps? 

Frank: Are criminals human? 

Justacityboy: Of course.

Frank: Are any humans purely bad? 

Justacityboy: That really depends what you figure bad is. 

Frank: Bad is pain. Good is pleasure. 

Justacityboy: Then in that case the bad would not be the criminals but those suffering from chronic diseases. They would be in deep pain and some may wish to simply die. Perhaps the thing of concern is friendship.

Frank: In that case Socrate's position makes sense. The bad cannot befriend anyone. The neutral can befreind the good and the neutral. But that still leaves the good. The good in this case cannot be hermits either, for the good would want to befriend yet the hermit would not. 

Justacityboy: Then there is good, other then the gods. Perhaps true friendship does not exist other then perhaps the relationship bewteen the gods and humans.

Frank: I don't believe in god.

Justacityboy: Let's leave your bias out of this and focus on the question at hand.

Frank: If there are gods then good exists, but what follows is that bad exists in the form of demons. 

Justacityboy: So if this was what Socrates was suggesting, humans can only befriend gods but not demons. Demons cannot befriend demons. 

Frank: Makes sense, but let's focus on something we both care about. Why can't humans befriends humans?

Justacityboy: Because it's not a pure friendship, there's always motivation. For example, Frank why are you my friend?

Frank: Your my friend because I enjoy your prescence. 

Justacityboy: And why do you enjoy my prescence? 

Frank: Because your philsoophical like me, you offer an interesting perspective. 

Justacityboy: So then you befriended me because I offer a perspective. The same way switching camera lenses offer a different angle? 

Frank: Yes. 

Justacityboy: So what's concluded is that I am a tool for your philosophy?

Frank: Well you also bring me joy. 

Justacityboy: Tools can bring joy as well. 

Frank: I suppose, but it's different you see a tool is used by it's master. You have free will and you choose to return the friendship. Then I in return must be useful to you as well.

Justacitboy: I agree. So then friendship is about advantages. The need for another person. Socrates mentions this remember?

Frank: Yes the need of the neuatral for the good. 

Justacityboy: And since the good is god, and you don't believe so, perhaps everyone posseses different quality of goodness that can improve both lives. 

Frank: Right, so we should seek friendship based on the amount of advantage and happiness the other person brings.

Justacityboy: Right. But we're forgetting one thing. 

Frank: What's that?

Justacityboy: Humans are not good right?

Frank: No their not.

Justacityboy: Humans have both good and bad qualities depending on the individual's situation and mood. Common sense wouldn't you say?

Frank: I would have to agree. 

Justacityboy: So thenso we should seek friendship by weighing the bad and the good of the person. For example your an atheist, that is bad in the sense that I could become corrupted yet good in the sense of perspective. So we should weigh the good and bad, and if the good out weigh the bad then the friendship should be made. 

Frank: Interesting, could the same apply for love?

Justacityboy: Perhaps. But let's ponder this and save this discussion for another day.

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