Friday, July 9, 2010

Todd May's Contribution to "The Stone"

The most recent post in the New York Time's philosophy blog "The Stone" is by the Foucault scholar Todd May. In it he takes up the issue of friendship in the age of economics. The point he makes, using Aristotle, perfectly echoes a point I tend to make in some of my classes using Heidegger's conceptions of calculative thought and enframing. When we conceive of our interpersonal relationships in terms of gain and loss we miss out on those relationships in which we come to see that we are part of another person or, in a community sense, part of something larger than our own concerns. As May puts it:

"Friendships worthy of the name are different. Their rhythm lies not in what they bring to us, but rather in what we immerse ourselves in. To be a friend is to step into the stream of another’s life. It is, while not neglecting my own life, to take pleasure in another’s pleasure, and to share their pain as partly my own. The borders of my life, while not entirely erased, become less clear than they might be."

May points out that while we certainly CAN calculate such relationships in terms of what good or bad they provide, to do so is to miss that the nature of the relationship itself has nothing to do with beneficial or negative outcomes. This is a great piece for "The Stone". Check it out.

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