Of Friendship/友情について

[Translated by James; bilingual version; 日英対照]

[Of Friendship][1]

————————–Keita, Aoi

The essay of “Of Friendship” (Von der Freundschaft)[2] written by German poet and journalist Matthias Claudius (1740 – 1815) has provoked my re-inquiry into the definition of friendship, given few similarities and differences I found in the thoughts between him and the Chinese sage Confucius (552 – 479 BC).

Claudius proposed three rules (Drei Gesetze der Freudnschaft) about genuine friendship: First, one should be the friend of another. Second, share wholeheartedly with one’s friend’s good and evil. Third, let not his friend ask twice. Even though it is not advisable to make friends too quickly, once friendship is established, however, one should be frank with one another. True friendship, to Matthias, cannot exist without union (Einigung), and as a result, those who suffer shipwreck and have once resided on a desolate island together are true friends. The intimating relationship, or high sociability, according to Claudius, is thus built upon individual some inherent moral laws and morality. Immanuel Kant stated in Critique of Practical Reason that one should “[a] ct only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law”[3], according to the statement of which every individual will should also abide by “universal principle” – the benchmark set in hope that everyone can exert concern about their partners through the act of empathy (De: Empathie), namely putting themselves in others’ shoes.

Confucius once asserted in Analects that “everyone are brothers with each other in the world”, a dogma of trompe l’oeil which seems similar to the Kantian term “universality”, but which is wrong. Indeed, Confucius does not suggest that one be “everyone’s” friends, for in another section of the same masterpiece, he admonishes us “not to befriend whoever bears no semblances with any traits of ours”, which can be interpreted as follows: Don’t be his friend if he neither looks nor behaves as you do.

Viewed in this light, Confucius’s attitude towards an ideal friendship is different from that of Claudius, as the latter tends to be more magnanimous. He denounced the use of a friend/friendship if one only honours and loves in him only those qualities really worthy of honour and love. In other words, so long as the moral principle is not defied, individual differences should be revered and celebrated. In contrast, Confucius suggests that we befriend only a gentleman (君子 jun zi) who, ideally, possesses the five virtues, or the five constants, including “Benevolence/ humaneness” (仁 yan), “Righteousness/justice” (義 yi), “Courtesy/ Proper rites” (禮 li), “Wisdom” (智 zhi) and “Faithfulness/ Integrity” (信 xin).

From either Claudius or Confucius, or even both, one conclusion can be drawn: we should not treat ourselves as the only subject (Subjekt), since, as a living species leading a collective life, the feelings and behaviour of others ought to be well understood, recognized and respected. After all each of us is solely an object – an onlooker/ observer, so let us follow the chief principle/path – to venerate everything surrounds us and to live peacefully with nature.

[1] This is a version rewritten and/or translated by James Au from Japanese written by Aoi Keita on 5th June, 2016

[2] Matthias Claudius, “Von der Freundshaft” Gutenberg (Web) http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/der-wandsbecker-bote-5206/150, last accessed on 9th June, 2016.

[3] Kant, Immanuel; translated by Mary Gregor [1788] (1997). Critique of Practical Reason.

[Photo taken by James Au on 9th February, 2015]



ドイツの詩人・新聞雑誌記者であるマティアス・クラウディウス(Matthias Claudius; 1740 – 1815)の文章を読み終え、私は中国の聖人である孔子の考え方と幾つか類似点があると思いながら、改めて「友情」の意味と定義について考え直してみた。


クラウディウスによれば、交友を深めるためには三つの規則(Drei Gesetze der Freundschaft)がある。一つ目は、お互いに友達になること。二つ目は、心をこめて相手の喜びと悲しみを共有すること。三つ目は、友達に二度と聞かせないこと。更に、短い時間の内で友達を作るのは望ましくないが、一旦友達となったら相手に対し正直に相対することである。また、真の友情はお互い常に共に行動しねばならない ので、共に難波し、無人島まで一緒に居ればこそ友達である 。

このようなクラウディウスの主張を鑑みるに、人間同士の付き合いは、倫理性に基づき成り立っているのだと考えられる。カント(Immanuel Kant)は「汝の意志の格律が常に同時に普遍的法則となるように行為せよ」 と『実践理性批判』で述べ、個人個人の意思は「普遍的法則」に従うべきだと提起した。カントの提起した「普遍」というのは、相手の気持ちを慮り、また他人の行動を妨げない限り、作用するとも考えられるであろう。このように推論すれば、「友情」とは、相手に対しより深く感情移入し(Eng: empathy; De: Empathie)、常に相手の立場に立ちながら考えることとも言えよう。



それはクラウディウスの提出した友達への包容力と異なるとも思われる。なぜなら、彼は「もし汝がただ彼の尊敬と愛に値する性格を尊敬したり、愛したりすれば、友達の役割とは何であろう」 と疑念を有すからである。要するに孔子と異なって、クラウディウスは皆倫理性に違反しない限り、個人個人の差異を尊重することだと述べているのだ。ただし、孔子は交友の基準として、相手が「君子」であるかどうかも関わってくるとしている。理想的「君子」とは、「仁」(仁愛)、「義」(正しい行動をすること)、「礼」(社会秩序を従うこと)、「智」(智恵)、及び「信」の五つの五徳と強く結ばれている。





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