Saturday, December 22, 2018

Aristotle's Breakup

"The friendship is dissolved when they do not get the things that formed the motives of their love; for each did not love the other person himself but the qualities  he had, and these were not enduring; that is why the friendships are transient. But the love of characters, as has been said, endures because it is self-dependent. [...] Differences arise when what they get is something different and not what they desire; for it is like getting nothing at all when we do not get what we aim at."
— Nicomachean Ethics ix, 1, 5.


I'll show him, he thought, tears streaming into his beard. I'll fucking show him. And, thus, the chief Philosopher of that previous, happy pagan age sat down to write a short break-up discourse on the state of friendship, which would become the template for all break-up emails spurned lovers would write to their spurious beloveds.

He wanted to stifle his tears to one manly tear prescribed by virtue, but it would not do. He knew that his book was filled with the bitter sentiments of one who has been burned and hasn't found a salve, but he didn't care.

Perhaps, he thought, if I can wrestle out a way, if I can lay a plan for happiness and stick to it, then I won't have this broken heart again.

How terrible, he thought, to know exactly what the good is one desires and find it wrestled from one's grasp by a two-timing, thoughtless, callous, god-forsaken, etc., etc.

For this Athenian now furiously scribbling out the world's most-frequented discourse on friendship is one of those supreme, unenviable philosophers who think that they can wrest from the world the truth that the world denies them: the assurance that, if we steer our boats correctly they will never wreck. If we only are able to chart the middle course, we will never find disaster.

Life, Aristotle, will not allow even you to escape its failures, its pitfalls, and its severing pains.

But, maybe out of our disasters, we can chart a clear path forward. That is known as redemption and as grace.

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