The Friendship Philosophy

In philosophical accounts of friendship, several themes recur consistently: mutual caring (or love), intimacy, and shared activity.The difference, perhaps, between love and friendship is that the latter is essentially a relationship, among other things.

Let us first examine the criteria of caring/love. Caring about someone involves both sympathy and action on the friend’s behalf. That is, friends must be moved by what happens to their friends to feel the appropriate emotions: joy in their friends’ successes, frustration and disappointment in their friends’ failures, etc. In essence, a friend is someone you know will be there for you, no matter what happens. And the utilitarian view of friendship has been pointed out by Aristotle as well. This could also account for the commitment in the relationship, making it very similar to romantic relationships.

The second component is intimacy. The relationship of friendship differs from other interpersonal relationships, even those characterized by mutual caring, such as relationships among colleagues: friendships are, intuitively, deeper relationships. And it is through the level of intimacy that we decide whether someone is merely an acquaintance, a close friend, and for some, even their best friend. Intimacy is developed when two people connect psychologically: that is, they are willing to disclose much of themselves (mentally and emotionally) because of mutual trust and respect for the other. And it is this factor that makes friendship unique in terms of other social interactions . Moreover, it is through intimacy that the third component arises: shared activity.

It is quite common that you find yourself wanting to know more about the people who share similar interests with yourself. Even as young children, we are drawn to people who seem to like the things we like. And as we grow older, we still find it amusing to find people who have the same interests we have. However, shared activity is not confined to just similarities in terms of interests, it is also having the same vision of striving for a common good.  After all, shared activity between and among friends could only result to becoming a better person.

However, the sad reality is that, despite the attractiveness of friendship, it is difficult to have one. As in any kind of relationship, it entails commitment and responsibility to look out for each other’s welfare and ensure that you will be available for each other, especially in times of need. But ultimately, once we decide that certain people will play the significant role of being a friend in the true sense of the word, we should be careful not to let them slip away.


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