Philosophy Seminar: That's What Friends Are For: A Confucian Perspective on the Moral Significance of Friendship

Date Thursday 3 May 2018
Time 3:10pm - 4:30pm
Where S.1.05
Presenter Cheryl Cottine (Oberlin College)
Contact Joe Ulatowski
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

"There is little dispute that the relationships we have with our friends are some of the most meaningful we cultivate over a lifetime. But what role, if any, does friendship play in the moral maturation of an individual?

Early Confucian texts-texts comprised prior to 221 B.C.E.-afford friendship a unique place on the arc of moral development. Friendships serve as a mediating relationship; they act as a bridge between family relationships and those formed in the larger social world. In this paper, I explore the significance of friendship as it relates to moral development in three classic Confucian texts, the Analects, the Mengzi, and the Xunzi.

The role of friendship, I argue, comes with distinct moral goods, which serve to further develop virtues established in family relationships while simultaneously instituting a foundation from which an individual can become a good and productive member of society. Friendships do considerable moral work and are associated with a distinct set of virtues and obligations. In short, I argue that friendship role-relationships should be regarded as integral to any theory of moral development, Confucian or otherwise."

(Text supplied by presenter)