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Arkadiusz GUDANIEC – Friendship as Discovering Personal Communion: A Reflection Inspired by the Ideas of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas

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The current article offers an exhortation to reflection on the role and meaning of friendship in a human life, based on a reading of selected source texts by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Additionally, by the application of the method of classical metaphysics and classical anthropology, the text suggests a new approach to otherwise common issues concerning the category of friendship.

Since the meaning of friendship in modern culture is significantly different from the interpretation of this concept in earlier epochs, the present considerations begin with a survey of the conceptions of friendship one may find in ancient and medieval philosophy.

The body of the article comprises a description of friendship, in its close relation to love, as the development (or: a potentiality of the development) which begins with self-love (a natural prerequisite) and leads, initially, to the discovery of the personal dimension of another human being, which attracts one’s natural will to loving the other purely for the sake of the other. In consequence, the relation of friendship makes it possible for a human being to discover her own ‘self,’ irreducible to the bodily or sensual dimensions. Thus, self-love can be fully comprehended only against the background of the essence of natural will, which is inherently attracted to the good. The next stage of a maturing friendship involves the discovery of its communal dimension, resulting from the fact that the basis of the interpersonal relation in question is unselfish love of the good that also provides the fulfi llment of the natural self-love one has for oneself (“unselfi sh” being certainly conceived of in the human sense and adequately to the human nature). The human being finds her greatest good and the perfection of her personhood beyond herself, simultaneously finding out that the growth of her personhood consists in the gift of self, given completely to the other: in the reciprocal gift of self which creates a distinctive community of spirit.

The highest stage of friendship, which transcends the natural order of being, offers the possibility to discover the ultimate dimension of personhood, the communio personarum which binds human persons with the highest Good, the personal Absolute. Friendship, based on unselfi sh love for the good in itself, is inevitably a pursuit of the friendship with God and thus provides a foretaste of the union with him. The gift of self in friendship is tantamount to opening oneself onto the only Good capable of bringing the spiritual fulfi llment of the person, thus leading her towards the desired happiness.

Thus dialectic of friendship sketched in the present article, based on the ideas of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, reveals a signifi cant truth about the human being, about the ultimate objective of a human life, as well as about the meaning and the role of bonds with others, the gift of self to them, and discovering one’s happiness.

Translated by Dorota Chabrajska

Keywords: friendship, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, classical philosophy, gift of self, spiritual fulfi llment, happiness

Department of Metaphysics, Institute of Theoretical Philosophy,
Faculty of Philosophy, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin,
Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
E-mail: arekg@kul.lublin.pl
Phone: +48 814454387

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» Gudaniec.fragment.pdf

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887