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Nietzsche on Friendship

Robert C. Miner
Journal of Nietzsche Studies
No. 40 (AUTUMN 2010), pp. 47-69
DOI: 10.5325/jnietstud.1.40.0047
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Page Count: 23
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Nietzsche on Friendship
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Abstract In this analysis of his thought on friendship, I begin first by arguing that for Nietzsche friendship is undesirable or impossible with or between four human types. Insight on this point is valuable, because it provides clear vision of what friendship is not. Second, I will argue that Nietzsche takes superior friendship to be possible but rare, since it requires its participants to balance three pairs of opposing qualities that are difficult to keep in equilibrium. Third, I will show that Nietzsche takes friendship in its highest form to aim at a goal, appropriately named “truth.” Here I draw upon both “middle-period” texts and Beyond Good and Evil, the latter to show that a concern for friendship pervades Nietzsche’s oeuvre. Fourth, I show that Nietzsche differs most from ancient authors in his uncompromising insistence that if friendship is to serve truth rather than comfort or illusion, it is necessarily agonistic. A final section argues that if true friendship is to be nourished rather than destroyed by opposition, the virtue of “sympathy” must be present. Sympathy in Nietzsche’s sense cannot be conflated with pity, since it is related to the “shared joy” that he identifies as the crown of friendship.

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