My problem with Montaigne's view on friendship is that I cannot really distinguish what he calls "friendship" from what most people would call narcissism. He excludes any possibility of friendship between siblings, parents and children, or between men and women. Thus, by Montaigne's definition, friendship only exists between men (presumably, heterosexual, because erotic desire between men is not explored in this essay), and even then it is a rare achievement. It is rare because Montaigne believes friendship is essentially a meeting of two rational minds on the same spiritual plain ("one soul inhabiting two bodies"), not to be confused with love or casual acquaintances. Thus, discovering friendship is like discovering yourself inhabiting a different body. Feelings or passion are not only unnecessary, but actually get in the way. Apparently, Montaigne's idea of friendship is reduced to the act of conversing with one's self (a rational discourse, as opposed to mere hallucinogenic or sociopathic babble). Even though he mentions a moral obligation to "correct" one's friend if he strays from the path of right reason, this concedes nothing more than a normal operation of conscience, or our own faculty of judgment which restrains the human tendency to wander off the path of righteousness. Since friendship, to endure, requires two people's thoughts to converge into one epiphany of mutual esteem, there would seem to be few occasions when one friend would be restrained by another's gentle rebuke. In point of fact, they would seem to inhabit a secure world of their own, with little need or desire for the opinions of others. Ultimately, I believe, this mode of friendship is indistinguishable from self-love. Montaigne and his dear friend Boetie formed a little society of their own, whose only notable result was to leave Montaigne forever gasping in despair over the loss of his beloved doppelganger. I can't help thinking that Montaigne probably would have been happier if he had just come out of the closet and married Boetie. Then, perhaps, he could have written a useful discourse on gay marriage, an institution that he apparently found unworthy of his literary gift.
Having written a brief introduction to Montaigne which emphasised the modernity of his sceptical and experimental approach, I was, to be honest, surprised that the essay on friendship is so very much in thrall to ancient philosophy, to notions of Oneness and Uniqueness deriving from Plato and the Stoics in its depiction of the Super Friendship between him and de la Boétie.
However, Montaigne stresses that the analogy is not complete.Despite his Essais being like these grotesques, Montaigne deems himself incapable of producing the well-rounded central artwork.That is why he instead announces that as the 28th essay he will place an essay of his dear friend, Etienne de La Boétie, with a work from his youth that Montaigne deems fit to take this prominent place.In addition, sonnets from the same friend will make up the 29th essay.As the 28th and 29th of the 57 essays of the first part of the Essais, Montaigne thus places the work of his friend at the center of his labyrinth of grotesque writings; a labyrinth that thus, void of any intrinsic necessity, more or less accidentally and without order, floats around a focal point: around the friend, around their friendship.And in particular, as occurs so often in the history of the writing on friendship: around the deceased friend, the friend that has passed away.
The suspicion that gave rise to this essay is that that the ideal friendship of Montaigne only first takes place in the text, in the writing about friendship, in the grotesque writing of a self-portrait in which the dead friend is being remembered and the ideal friend is being born.
"An Analysis of the Topic of Friendship in the Writings of Aristotle and Montaigne." Kibin, 2023, www.kibin.com/essay-examples/an-analysis-of-the-topic-of-friendship-in-the-writings-of-aristotle-and-montaigne-7aG2lXSP
1. "An Analysis of the Topic of Friendship in the Writings of Aristotle and Montaigne." Kibin, 2023. -examples/an-analysis-of-the-topic-of-friendship-in-the-writings-of-aristotle-and-montaigne-7aG2lXSP.
Some of the most interesting parts of Nehamas' book deal with what it means to care for a friend for herself. What is this self that is the object of love or liking in friendship? No list of qualities can capture what we care for in a friend, because the same qualities in another person fail to do the trick. It's not just her sense of humor, her intelligence, her curiosity, and so on, but these qualities expressed in the way she expresses them -- her style - that make the difference. Although this point has been made before, Nehamas' way of making it is entirely original. He illustrates what he means by a friend's qualities expressed in the way he expresses them with a story about an unexpected action by his close friend, Tom. If someone asked Nehamas why Tom was his friend, he would, among other things, tell this story about him. But no matter how much detail he gave to this and other stories about Tom, it wouldn't suffice to fully explain, even to himself, why Tom was his friend. Just as we can't fully convey in words why we find something beautiful, so we can't fully convey in words why we find someone lovable. Words leave something out in both cases, and what they leave out in the latter case is part of the self. This is not only because the self that is the object of love is complex, but also because it exists only in that relationship. Different aspects of the self are important for different friends. And every friendship changes both friends. Hence every friendship, in Nehamas' words, "is a unique combination of two souls, impossible to duplicate" (121). By way of a discussion of Montaigne's essay on friendship, Nehamas concludes with Montaigne that the only "explanation" one can give for a friendship is: "Because it was he, because it was I." (119).
Montaigne wrote on a wide range of subjects, including idleness, the education of children, friendship, solitude, the inconsistency of human actions, and vanity. Excerpts from one of his best-known essays, "Of Cannibals," are reprinted below. 2b1af7f3a8