Lysis & Socrates: What Is Friendship?

Topics: Love, Plato, Friendship Pages: 3 (1203 words) Published: March 10, 2009
Lysis & Socrates: What is friendship?

In this dialogue between Socrates, Lysis, and Lysis’ best friend Menexenus, Socrates is trying to show Hippothales that the way to attract attention from someone is NOT by praising them, but by drawing them into a philosophical discussion. He claims that praising them (especially young people) will only make them bigheaded, and that developing their mind & soul with deep conversation is the right way to draw their attention. Socrates shows this by starting a debate with Lysis and Menexenus about friendship. From the get-go Socrates suggests to Lysis that his parents love him, and in Greek the word for love is related to the word for friendship. So, what is friendship, and under what conditions does it exist?

The first question Socrates poses is to Menexenus and is as follows: “When someone loves someone else, which of the two becomes the friend of the other, the one who loves or the one who is loved? Or is there no difference” (Plato, 212b). Menexenus claims there to be no difference at all, and it is possible for two people to be friends if only one loves the other. Socrates disagrees, saying it is possible for one to love the other but not e loved in return, and possibly even hated in return. If this is the case, is the lover the friend of the loved or vice-versa? Or can they not be friends because they do not both love each other in return? Menexenus agrees with the latter, meaning his thoughts of love and friendship have been questioned and even changed a little.

Now, Socrates decides to take the discussion in a different direction. He turns to a quote from the poets, “God always draws the like unto the like” (Plato, 214). The poets are saying that God is the one who makes people friends. However, Socrates reasons to the idea that if this were true (that like is friends with like) then that would mean that evil would be friends with evil (because they are the same). This cannot be true because...
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