Aristotle on Facebook

Detail of the right-hand facade fresco, showing Aristotle and His Disciples. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

In the opening to his discussion of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle claims:

For friendship is a virtue ….  and also it is one of the most indispensable requirements of life. For no one would choose to live without friends, but possessing all other good things. (Section 1; Book VIII)

But what would Aristotle say about Facebook?

According to a number of papers in a special edition of Ethics and Communication Technology, he would not be impressed. The arguments, as one would hope, are rather nuanced. Most are limited to “full online friends”. I think Aristotle might be happy with Facebook’s use to maintain established friendships. In Section 5, he notes:

[D]istance does not break off the friendship absolutely, but only the activity of it. (Section 5; Book VIII)

Facebook, of course, enables some of the activities of friendship to be continued at a distance. I think Aristotle might find this affordance useful. So long as you don’t over do it – “One cannot be friends to too many people … “(Section 5; Book VIII)

(Note: I am no Facebook fan – I closed my account a number of years ago).


One thought on “Aristotle on Facebook

  1. Pingback: Plato on Second Life | Mitch Parsell

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