Philosophy has for a long time been used to explain various topics by people. Some of them include different issues taking place in a social context, as friendship, human nature, lying, parental training, self-respect, behavior towards women, and forgiveness. Aristotle, along with other philosophers, have tried to highlight these matters in their own philosophical understanding. Thus, they focus on the interplay between such philosophical topics as friendship and human nature, which tend to occur naturally through the interactions of people all over the world.
In his works on the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle explores the nature and purpose of friendship, dividing it into three main types. Accordingly, the first friendship is based on utility. In this kind of friendship, the people involved derive some benefit from each other. He establishes the second type of friendship on pleasure, which implies that the people are drawn to each other’s humor, appearance, and other pleasant qualities they possess. It is a selfish kind of friendship that ends as soon as it no longer produces any satisfaction. The final kind of friendship lies in the goodness. In this type the parties admire each other’s goodness, so it lasts for years as the only genuine type of friendship. As a consequence, Aristotle asserts that bad men are friends for the sake of what they can benefit from each other, whether it is pleasure or utility, whereas good men are unconditional friends.
According to the philosopher, friendship is not just a feeling, but rather a disposition, since it depends on the intention. Aristotle also talks about a kind of friendship in which one of the parties is superior, as, for example, is the friendship between parents and their children. Notably, people do not long for friends just for the sake of companionship, but for what they can benefit from it, as is with the first two types of friendship. Accordingly, it confirms the Dawkins’s claim on human nature that human beings are selfish and are always looking for a way of benefiting from one another for the sake of their own interests.
Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene explores human nature, which, in his perception, is extremely selfish. He connects this selfishness to be within their genetic makeup as the human beings are driven towards survival by their genes through competitive and self-interested natural selection. For example, many people tend to follow their own interests in a bid to gain something that can help them overcome certain incidents. He also claims that genes that adapt more quickly to the competitive world tend to survive at the expense of others. A real life example is the ability of some employees to secure promotions because they are better at their jobs and associated challenges. His remarks on a selfish gene model of evolution suggest that human beings should maximize their reproductive success by being cunning and deceitful provide further understanding of the Dawkins’s perception of human nature. As a result, it is directly related and dependent on lying, especially malicious and beneficial lies, which are being carried out for selfish reasons. Therefore, in his view, individuals are selfish machines programmed to do whatever is best for the survival of their genes, even if it involves telling lies just to prove themselves as better people in any given situation.
Lying is an extremely common social behavior that the average human being performs on a daily basis. Nonetheless, it is considered to be something appalling and for this reason many parents discourage it in their children. The truth of the matter is that no one likes a person they cannot trust and, when someone gains the reputation of being a liar, they lose their credibility. The long-lasting debate on lying being positive or negative has not led to dubious conclusions, as, despite the obvious negative connotation, deception can bring positive outcomes. It, however, depends on the situation, for instance, lies may be beneficial on occasion, when telling the truth can inflict more harm, and lying is used to avoid negative consequences. Nevertheless, people should be cautious against making a habit out of it.
According to Bryant, the types of lies people tell are able to determine to some extent how destructive a lie is. For instance, white lies are harmless as they are told to protect the feelings and self-esteem of others, especially of people about whom one cares. Beneficial lies are usually told to help others. For example, following an accident whereby child’s parents passed away, a social worker may tell the child a lie that their parents are fine in order to save them from trauma in the short term. On the contrary, deceptive lies are dangerous, as the liar tells them with a purpose of harming their victim for their own selfish gain. Consequently, lying is directly related, but not necessarily dependent on human nature. Human beings are prone to lying, particularly when they have a goal to achieve. Lying can to an extent be related to the topic of forgiveness, since, when a person is prone to lying, they invoke the feelings of betrayal and hurt in others. Hence, the only way of overcoming its impact is by forgiving the person who has lied to them.
Taylor supports Aristotle in the second book of the Nicomachean Ethics, where the author explores a long list of virtues. He considers parental training in good habits essential in the cultivation of such goodness. Further, Aristotle admits that very few people are able to genuinely recognize the natural virtue, while the rest must be made to see the advantages of righteous behavior through parental training. To further his perception of parental training, Aristotle states that human beings need to be ruled by reason whether their reason is active or passive. As a result, parental rule substitutes this reason until when a child is old enough to decide by themselves. In a way, it can be said that parents engage in shaping the behavior of their children. Furthermore, it is connected to lying, as, while parents try to caution their children against lying, they instill virtues in them. More so, parental training is related and dependent on self-respect, as parents teach their children to learn to appreciate themselves in addition to respecting others. In detail, it happens when parents are cautious in the presence of their children, as they avoid quarrels or even fights in order to give their children space to learn. As a result, they raise children who will treat others morally, offer forgiveness to those who wrong them, and make friends for sincere and genuine reasons.
Self-respect is a feeling of a person about who they are, which shows whether they honor and treat themselves with dignity. On the contrary, servility is something that can easily undermine a person’s self-respect. It is because if a person is servile they show too much eagerness to serve and please others in a manner that shows their lack of respect for themselves. Hill in his essay Servility and Self-Respect asserts that everyone has a duty to themselves, including a duty to avoid being servile. Accordingly, people should develop self-respect that is incompatible with a servile attitude. The author further asserts that everyone has a non-utilitarian moral duty to respect themselves.
In the article A Serving of Gratitude, Tierny explores the concept of thanking and being grateful for all positive things that happen in a person’s life. For example, thanking is necessary when one has been helped overcome a complicated situation such as a financial crisis. However, thanking others should not be confused with indebtedness. Further, one should not thank as a way of wanting to please despite the treatment they receive back, as it will only show servility and lack of self-respect. To an extent, the concept of self-respect is related to the moral treatment of women. Thus, if women are treated in a moral way and with dignity, they learn to respect and appreciate themselves and their womanhood.
Treating Women Morally
It has been promoted by feminists around the world that women should be treated morally. In this context, treating women morally refers to respecting them sexually. Louis Pineau and Catherine MacKinnon explore various situations whereby women are not treated morally from the sexual perspective. In the first place, Pineau in his discussion of Date Rape: A Philosophical Analysis highlights how women are mistreated sexually through rape. In many instances, authorities perceive rape to occur when a victim has physical injuries indicating it. Although when it comes to date rape it is a non-aggravated sexual assault that does not usually involve physical injury, and only the fact that the sexual encounter was non-consensual makes it a rape. Since the physical injury is the only acceptable evidence, many cases of date rape are disregarded and mistaken for seduction instead. As a result, women who become victims of date rapes are treated immorally and nothing is done about it. For instance, when a woman is raped, society takes it as a normal occurrence, vindicating the criminal and blaming the woman. Catherine MacKinnon is an anti-pornography feminist who explores the objectification of women as sexual objects. According to MacKinnon, women are not treated morally when they are subjected to participate in pornography, which is sustained by men’s consumption of vices. She explains that in pornography women are graphically and sexually subordinated through pictures and words. Furthermore, García, Soriano, and Arriaza affirm that women are dehumanized as sexual objects. They are treated immorally as they are shown to be gaining pleasure from pain, humiliation, rape, being tied, cut, physically hurt, and penetrated with objects and animals. On the contrary, treating women highly is related and dependent on the phenomenon of self-respect. As, when women are degraded and humiliated by being treated as sexual objects, they stop valuing themselves, lose their self-respect, abandon their duty to honor who they are and treat themselves with dignity. As a result, there are women who accept to be treated in an immoral manner, find it right to be objectified in pornographic media, do not feel enslaved or humiliated, and enjoy the attention that comes with being perceived in such a manner.
Everyone at one time or another has ever forgiven someone for something that has been done to them. The thing about forgiveness is that it is something that many people struggle with as it is a conceptually and morally complex phenomenon. When someone forgives others, it is expected that they should no longer feel resentment for the wrong that was committed against them. Murphy and Hampton in their article Forgiveness and Resentment define forgiveness as the forswearing of resentment. They define resentment as feeling anger and hatred towards someone who has done one an unjustified moral injury. Thus, forgiving someone is a preventing means that involves letting go of resenting, as without doing so, they are likely to take up the anti-social action of exerting revenge. Furthermore, Toenjes asserts that forgiveness and trust cannot be offered simultaneously. Usually, the person that has been wronged will likely lose their trust in the person who has hurt them. Thus, they may forgive, but they will be cautious about restoring their trust.
Overall, forgiveness can be linked to almost all the above topics. Friendship is related and dependent on forgiveness because it highly depends on the people’s ability to forgive and trust each other. Thomas agrees that the lack of forgiveness makes it difficult for friendship to exist. In other words, if one perceives another as a fake in friendship, where they have no forgiveness, it will lead to breaking the friendship. In addition, lies or hurting women provide negative impact on both afflicted sides, to ease which there is a need for their ability of forgiveness.
The above discussion has highlighted some of the essential social concepts explained philosophically. When it comes to friendship, it is clear that some people pursue this relationship in their own selfish interest, which is an essence of human nature. In line to pursuing self-oriented interests some people deceit, some enjoy degrading, some lose themselves in revenge, some take pleasure in forcing others to lose their self-respect or in treating women in an immoral manner. At the end of it all, parental training and forgiveness help make things right, but only if they are properly executed. When parents train their children in the virtues, children grow up avoiding some of the negative aspects of the discussed concepts; however, even if these undesired consequences take place, forgiveness becomes a way of erasing their impact.