Sunday, December 17, 2006

C. S. Lewis and The Four Loves - "friendship"

Here are some quotes from the Friendship section of the C. S. Lewis book The Four Loves:

"To the ancients, friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves, the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it."

"It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.
.... Those who cannot conceive friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of eros betray the fact that they have never had a friend. ... Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; friends hardly ever about their
friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest."

"Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or
more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure."

"Lovers seek for privacy. Friends find this solitude about them, this barrier between them and the herd, whether they want it or not."

"In this kind of love, as Emerson said, 'Do you love me?' means 'Do you see the same truth?' or at least, 'Do you care about the same truth?'"

Lewis also goes at length into the necessarily exclusive, but possibly negative, aspects of friendship.

"The snob wishes to attach himself to some group because it is
already regarded as an elite; friends are in danger of coming to regard themselves as an elite because they are already attached. We seek men after our own heart for their own sake and are then alarmingly or delightfully surprised by the feeling that we have become an aristocracy."

"We who are 'they' to them -- do not exist as persons at all.
We are specimens; specimens of vaious Age Groups, Types, Climates of Opinions, or Interests..."

"Indeed, the friendship may be 'about' almost nothing except the fact that it excludes. .... From the innocent and necessary act of excluding to the spirit of exclusiveness is an easy step; and thence to the degrading pleasure of exclusiveness."

See other interesting comments on friendship here.

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