210b introduces what we might call a stranger idea about love and friendship. Socrates
argues, “that everyone will love you and become familiar with you if you become
knowledgeable because you will be helpful and beneficial”
This notion develops a well-established ethos in ancient Greek society which is that of
the excellent individual
Love and friendship are given to those who are capable, skillful
But if this is the case then, as our translator points out, friendship only has instrumental
The instrumental value of friendship
This may seem strange to us because we have a post-romantic notion of friendship
Romanticism was the period of history immediately after the 18 century, the age of
The romantics stressed, among other things, “community feeling” communion with
nature. They were often disenchanted with modernity
We are still suffering from the hangover that is Romanticism. We are of the opinion that
our friends are similar spirits to ourselves. Finding such similar spirits helps us to fix the
diremption we find in ourselves
Plato would not only reject such a view but indeed this ideal would be alien to him
Why not cut to the chase?
However, if friends only have instrumental value, then why not desire and pursue the
things your fiends have?
This question is raised in 211d-e but Socrates says that he would rather have friends
than material goods. Indeed he would rather have Darius as a friend than the power and
riches of Darius himself but why?
Keeping the ancient Greek narrative in mind, what is so valuable about friendship?
Can you be friends with someone who hates you?
From the discussion, a seemingly tangential question and inquiry is provoked: what
relationship needs to exist in order to say you are friends with someone?
Does the relationship need to be symmetrical vis a vis love? Consider the following relationships between A and B:
A loves B but B is indifferent to A. is A a friend of B?
A hates B and undermines him at every turn. B loves A and helps him in many ways. Is B
a friend of A
Do Opposites create friendship?
Plato next examines a common belief, namely, that opposites attract.
Plato quotes Hesiod “Potter is piqued with potter, singer with singer” 215d
The pint of this chestnut of wisdom is that sometimes we are bothered by thos