published on March 1, 2019
A Politics to Come
Benevolence and the Nature of Friendship in Aristotle’s Ethics
Throughout Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, and Magna Moralia, the disposition of benevolence (εὔνοια) operates as the primary condition for both friendship and political community to fully manifest themselves. However, benevolence always retains the possibility of not developing into proper friendship. Although benevolence may develop into proper friendship, its non-possibility comes to be disclosed in the concord (ὁμόνοια) of political friendship (πολιτική φιλία) and the generation of political community. As I shall claim, benevolence is constituted by an essential ambivalence modeled upon Aristotle’s definition of nature as the principle and source of generation (γένεσις) and corruption (φθορά). Following this inherent tendency in all organic life, Aristotle’s account of benevolence thus serves to adumbrate the fragile and tenuous nature of friendship and political community as the site of a cosmopolitanism to come.