Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2005

April Flakne
Pages 37-63

Embodied and Embedded
Friendship and the Sunaisthetic Self

Sunaisthesis is a generally overlooked or misconstrued concept central to Aristotle’s philosophy of friendship, and therefore to his entire ethical and political project. As opposed to Stoic uses that presuppose ethical self-relation, in Aristotle’s coinage, sunaisthesis indicates the genesis of a self-relation mediated through the friend. Both the “merged selves” and the “mirrored selves” approaches to Aristotelian friendship distort this peculiar mediation. Through a close reading of relevant texts, I show that sunaisthesis provides the missing link between the De Anima’s non-reflexive perceiving self and Aristotle’s requirement of a robustly reflexive yet socially inculcated ethical self. Sunaisthesis accounts for ethical responsibility while reinforcing rather than denying our embodied and socially embedded nature.