5.3.2 Friendship and Charity

Sunday, 16. August 2009


Yesterday we had a look at the first part of Diderot’s Encyclopedia article on friendship, saying that while our more businesslike approach is addressed to casual acquaintances, we can speak of an amicable contact, a friendship, when our heart is volved. Let us see today how Diderot elaborates this view, when he continues: 

“Friendship is in this nature distinguished from charity, which is a mentality to do good to all, while friendship applies only to those with whom we are actually trading. On the whole the human species is too extensive to keep up  with everyone, neither can everyone keep up with us.

Friendship assumes a sort of natural charity, a benevolence: but it incorporates as well a habit that creates a special connection between two people who are having a business with each other.”

According to Diderot we could say that charity is a general attitude addressed to mankind; we can’t be friends with the whole human race; so friendship is a more restricted, private connection with those we are actually ‘trading’… 

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