Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Debate on friendship

Here is an entry to continue with the work we've been doing in class (advanced II). I want you to start posting comments to demonstrate that you are actually using the blog, something I have no evidence of, so far. So, here is the question I expect you to start a debate about: "ARE PURELY ALTRUISTIC FRIENDSHIPS POSSIBLE OR IS THERE ALWAYS AN ELEMENT OF SELF-INTEREST IN THEM?"

Come on, start giving your opinions!!!!


  1. I think we all have some interest in our friends. We probably do not expect any particular behaviour from them, but from time to time, we would like to have a coffee or send an email, and we probably feel like having some feedback would be nice.
    I am not sure if I could be friend for a very long time of someone who never ever has time to dedicate to me and make me feel important to her. That is why I do not think that purely altruistic friendships can exist.

  2. Thank you, Rosa. Your contribution is most appreciated. I was starting to have doubts about the point of keeping a blog, if nobody was willing to take part in the activities suggested. I will forward the pertinent corrections promptly to your e-mail address. If anyone else reads this plaintive post, please, contribute to making this activity worth it. I will also tell you my opinion if the debate gets interesting.

  3. I can not agree with Rosa at all, even though i can see her point. I have a lot of friends, fut ones that are worth it are the ones that give it all without expecting nothing in return, and i call that altruistic friendship. Because if i need them, they won´t come to me because of interest, they will come because they are there, and that´s it. If one of your friends does not have time to spend with you at all, it might be either he´s far away or he is not your real friend; because a real friend has always got time to be with you.

  4. OK, here´s my first contribution to the blog:

    I agree with Marina. Your true friends are always there for you whenever you need them because they care about you, not because they' re expecting to get something in return (apart from your gratefulness and... your company, I suppose). I hate having to pretend an interest on a person who was supposed to be a friend of mine just for not being rude, when I bump into an old schoolmate and he/she starts to talk about celebrating a dinner party with the rest of the people on our old class, for example. But I've got to admit that sometimes it's nice to see someone you used to be close to and that you haven't seen for ages. This is my opinion, anyway.

  5. I think in fact both, Alberto and Mariña are agree with what Rosa said.
    Friends are expected to be there when you need them and that's not really altruistic at heart even if you or your friend are not conscious of it.
    Advices, confort, trust, ... we expect a lot of things of our friends. And if it weren't like that, anyone could be our friend. But we choose them conscientiously, or, at least, I do.

  6. I believe friendship is a kind of shared-feelling-business. Even between parents and children, you always expect to receive part of what you've "invested" in. I mean, you're supposed to deserve something since you made a huge effort previously.
    I love my friends deeply but I wonder... why do we panic as one friend or relative of us is in danger?...because of him/her? Really?

  7. I think we always expect something from everyone -as humans beings we are selfish by nature-. Even more from those we considered our friends because we are keeping a close connection with them that implicates an extra effort from our part (tell our private problems, share our free time, etc). Then, as Rosa said at the beggining, it is nice to receive a `feedback of friendship´ just to know that we are as well important to the other part.

  8. why do you say that sharing out problems involves making an effort? In my opinion, expecting something from your best friend doesn´t imply being selfish, it's just friendship, and you give him/her something just because you want to, and so soes he or she. Not because she's expected to, just because that person loves you.

  9. Please, anyone could post a comment in "Punch on the face"?

  10. All I can deduce so far is that only Alberto and Mariña have good friends, the rest find some kind of interest in it. I agree with Mariña. Sharing out problems is not an effort, in fact is what people should do,unless they want to have a kind of mental disorder for not unburden themselves of their woes.

  11. oh! hello!
    I´ve just found your really interesting comments. I agree with Rosa, with Alberto, María, Mariña...Each one has said interesting things.
    Is very easy for me sharing out problems and my friends never bother me whit their issues but... Rosa is right when she talks about to get something in return, `feedback of friendship´(Noelia´s term).
    I consider this feedback a way to check if my company is nice(n.b.) for my friend, classmate or even a "parkmate" whose small childen are playing near mine. I try to "not disturb" so, I love when my acquaintances and, of course, my friends ask me for things that I can do or make for helping them. This attitude shows me an O.K. (if I can´t stand a person I neither ask them favors nor small talks).
    I like being "useful" in a wide meaning and I don´t think that shows any self-interest.
    And how about a couple?
    Absolutely generous and altruistic?
    Sharing life, children and house just for love?
    Maybe we share our budget, our responsabilities, our problems, our illness, pieces of advise...less romantic but realistic!
    I think in all relationships and other vital activities, you look for a prize, a goal, a reason, even though the simple fact of being talking for a while just for pleasure or relax.
    It might be YOUR personal reason.
    Is that a selfish behaviour?
    I don´t think so.

    n.b.: I "hate" the word since Carlos taught us last year that NICE comes from "necio" and it reminded me a "necia ex-friend whose name I purposely omit" but I can´t forget her nice smile everytime and everywhere.
    Which is the name of the film?: "FRIENDSHIP MATTERS"

    good night and see you!

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  15. As promised, here are my two pennies on the topic of friendship. I hope it wil not get too analytical and pretentiously philosophical, but knowing myself, that is a lost cause.

    I must say I'm in two minds about it: divided between the world of matter and the world of the spirit. This is a dilemma I haven´t resolved completely and which not only affects my perception of friendship, but of life itself. The compromise I've tried to adopt between these two conflicting conceptions consists of trying to think on matter and the spirit as one and the same thing, thus avoiding the duality prevalent in our Judeo-Christian culture.

    OK, I'll explain: materialistic perceptions tend to consider human behaviour as a natural consequence of self-preservation, self-advancement and the pursuit of pleasure (some thinkers like Richard Dawkins even reduce this to the transmission and success of our genes). Judeo-Christian ethics, on the other hand, stresses the importance of exercising charity (including love and friendship) without expecting anything in return. Neither exteme satisfies me totally.

    To my mind, arguments to support the materialistic (in the wider sense of the word, not just referring to pecuniary interest) posture would include the following:

  16. 1.The rule of contact and exchange: friends necessarily live in the same historical period and usually in the same location. In other words, you couln't be friends with someone from a different period of time or someone you cannot have any contact with. It would make no sense, as no exchange would be possible. Exchanges, however unfrequent, are indispensible between friends. No possible lack of expectations is possible here.

    2.The same generation rule: friends overwhelmingly belong to the same generation. Frienships with a wide age gap are extremely scarce. In other words: friends usually share the same interests and similar experiences.

    3.The “with me or against me” rule. I know of no friendships which can withstand the test of real or perceived betrayal. If a friend adopts a posture of confrontation with you that squarely affects your interests, they cease to be such.

    4.The boredom rule. We expect our friends to bring new perspectives into our life, to help us to expand our horizons, if not to be funny. Boredom is the worst enemy of friendship.

    5.The reciprocity rule. We expect our friends' actions to correspond to our good deeds towards them with some degree of reciprocity. This is perhaps not indispensable in the short to middle run, but definitely so in the long run.

    6.The consistency rule. We expect our friends to be predictable. We need to feel we know them. If a friend starts changing, you go different ways. Frienship is no longer possible.

  17. Arguments to support the spiritual view would include:

    1.Immediate connection between soul mates. With a couple of people in your life you feel a strong personal connection even without knowing them very well. It is as if you had met them before. This perception is later confirmed and you become best friends.

    2.Unselfish altruism. When we like someone, and perceive them as important for whatever reason, we keep doing things to benefit them even when they have wronged us.

    3.Extrasensorial perception. Many people claim to feel uneasy when, without them knowing it, one of their friends is in distress.

    In conclusion: I view friendship as a symbiosis, a term which (although often used to refer to the mutually beneficial relation between plants and/or animals and thus associated with soulless beings) I apply unhesitatingly to human beings. And here is where I get back again to the combination of both views I tried to explain above, of matter and spirit. It is a bit like the behaviour of light: both a particle and a wave... There is soul in matter and there is matter in soul, They are manifestations of the same reality. There is an element of self-interest in friendship, but that is not a bad thing. If friendship was totally deprived of self-intrest, it could turn against us. Do we want that? I think not.

    And, finally, it could be argued that even the most altruistic examples of human behaviour are ultimately also examples of selfishness: we all know that, by changing the world for the better, we are ,after all, creating a safer, more rewarding environment for ourselves and our offspring, and that tendency is probably also encoded in our genes. Then again, we may reach a partial understanding of how things work, but never of why they are that way. Mystery and awe in the face of the infinite will always accompany us. Matter or spirit, self or others? Who cares, they are one and the same thing.

  18. It looks like you´ve written a complete essay on friendship, Carlos, I wish I could write like you!

    I think you´ve made an interesting point, but not only you, everyone have said very sensible things.
    I said on my first comment that I couldn´t see any sort of self-interest in our relationships with friends, but going through your comments, I think I didn´t express my opinion as I would have wanted.

    Of course there are some interest in friendship, we all like to get a message from a close friend when we´re not at our best, or after a long day, or an important exam, or whatever, but that´s the point of it, that´s the feedback which keeps a relationship "alive", like Carlos said at the end of his comments, it´s a sort of "symbiosis".

    That´s why I said before that I didn´t see any sort of self-interest, expecting a feedfack from your friends can´t be selfish at all, in contrast with what Noelia and Maria said in their comments, that´s what friendship is all about. If you´re seeing someone often because you want to get something in return, you should change your definiton of "friend".