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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 joe.ulatowski@waikato.ac.nz
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)