“Il les laisse heritiers de cette sienne liberalité, qui consiste à leur mettre en main les moyens de luy bien-faire.” Michel de Montaigne, Essais Livre 1 (Flammarion 1969), Chapitre XXVIII
(amateuristic English translation: “He leaves them as heirs of his liberalism, a liberalism that consists in giving them the means to treat him well.”)
[Re-posted from http://quoughts.skynetblogs.be (the original was dated November 1st, 2007): I knew it was going to be awkward to read & review this old stuff, but it would have been cowardly not to do so. Still, I was shocked at reading this. Shocked to see how badly written it was; but mostly shocked at what I tried to write, back then. Shocked at having felt so lonely. Nothing much has changed since then, except for how I feel about these things which is – mostly – better. I rewrote a lot but kept the insight (which is challenging but which I can still buy) as well as the feeling (which I lost, for the most part, but which may resonate with some). Hope you like it.]
I am not sure I get it. It is not a pure coincidence that I start with something I am not sure of. A good quote is never the one-liner equivalent of a slam-dunk type of argument. A good quote always leads to wonder: it fuels your creativity, & it stimulates your thought.
I didn’t reread the entire chapter. I guess it doesn’t make a romantic plea for altruistic friendship of the kind that would make people forget themselves in an attempt to help others. Friendship – as a specifically human trait – involves at least two people. It would be self-defeating if one of them would forget herself. Although there may be a lot of benefits in that for the other, friendship will not be among those benefits. That being said, friendship cannot just be a relationship between two (or more) people. Indeed, friendship understood as pure reciprocal relationships is nothing else but the romanticized version of the economic quid pro quo. At heart we know for sure that friendship is of a different kind than a purely economical relationship. And, in the end, our interest in friendship is an matter of the heart so let us direct our reason to the feeling rather than to a redefinition of the concept that makes it more clear at the expense of keeping it to the point.
So this much is the fruit of my first wonder: friendship requires, at least, two people and something else. What can the something else be?