5.3.1 Friends and Acquaintances

Saturday, 15. August 2009


We could easily say that the Encyclopédie is the masterwork in Diderot’s career, at least in speaking of the time it took him to finish it (27 years). He edited more than seventy thousand articles. Over four thousand articles were written by himself. A greater part of these writings are translated into English by now but this process is still running. Some translations are very well done and some are less so, not really that brilliant…

I stumbled on this excellent, still modern article on Friendship (l‘Amitié) and noticed a very poor English translation, which is such a pity. So I decided to make a new translation. The following is the first part of Diderot’s article on Friendship:    


“Friendship is nothing else than maintaining an honest and pleasant trade with someone. Is this completely true… shouldn’t friendship be more than that? Because, one will say, friendship cannot be restricted to such a condition, it transcends the borders of just a simple exchange. 

In a way, that is correct. But those who make this observation don’t bear in mind the following: that two people who maintain a connection that is decent and gives pleasure to both, automatically will be friends. 

Now the “trade” that we keep up with others takes account of either the mind or the heart; the more businesslike approach is meant for casual acquaintances, while the exchange by which the heart feels fascinated, is a friendship. 

In my view this is the most precise and clear definition of friendship and even of its surrounding fields.”


So far, of the first part:

What do you think, does this division make sense? Nowadays we have many connections, which could mean we have a lot of friends, at least… those people in our network with whom it’s a pleasure to communicate with…

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