The concept of philia: Aristotle and posterity
Keywords:Aristotle, Cicero, St. Agustin, Philia, Amicitia, Agape, Caritas, Theoria, Praxis
Is there, beyond the external and apparent similarities, a real continuity between the ancient notion of philia and ‘friendship’ as understood nowadays? In order to answer this question we must undertake a path beginning in Greek philia, as summarized in Aristotelian philosophy and in particular in his ethics. We shall then go through the Hellenistic-roman reformulation, as in Cicero’s De amicitia, in order to arrive at the Christian concepts of agape and caritas and to the use made of the Christian ideas of love and friendship in the secularization process accomplished by modern thought. A path which allows to see, under the persistence of tradition, irreparable fractures and interruptions, making the notions of philia on one hand and of agape and caritas on the other, concepts probably among the most peculiar and characteristic of the differences existing between Greek and Christian cultures.