Friendships of Virtue
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Stoic Breath: Sunrise Edition w/ Steve Beattie. EveryMonday @ 6:15 AM ET.RSVP here.
The Long Night: Navigating the Near Future w/ John Robb. February 8th, 15th, and 22nd @ 10:00 AM ET. Patreon event (The Stoa or The Global Guerrillas Report). 60 mins.
Body and Soul: Giving Birth to an Emergent Wisdom Commons w/ Jordan Hall, Zak Stein, and Jamie Wheal. February 22nd @ 5:30 PM ET. RSVP here.
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Un-Saving the World: Doing Good Without Burning Out w/ Michael Smith. March 1st, 8th, and 15th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
LessWrong: A Community for Intellectual Progress w/ Oliver Habryka and Jacob Lagerros. March 10th @ 6:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Terra Sapien: The Networked Human Borg w/ Rhys Lindmark. March 11th @ 8:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
5 Stages of Development as a World Transformer w/ Nick Jankel. March 17th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
February 21st, 2021
Do the right thing even if it means dying like a dog when no one's there to see you do it.
That quote is from James Stockdale, and it deeply resonates. The quote visited me again last night, and now it will not leave.
He is talking about virtue of course, which is something that is not fashionable to talk about, nor is it going to win any popularity contests. If anything, attempting to be virtuous is going to help you not belong. You might be called problematic—slapped with an -ist label from one of the woke tribes—or you might be called a beta male cuck by one of the reactionary tribes, and the normies will just think you are a weirdo.
If there is a virtue spectrum between the fool and the sage, I am probably closer to the fool, being flung around by the daemon, not knowing where the fuck I am going. At least I am on the virtue spectrum though. Today’s incentive landscape does not encourage virtue to manifest.
It would be cool if a virtue gym or regimen for virtue existed. It does not. This is why I am (maybe) a Stoic; every moment is an opportunity for practice. It is nice to have some practice friends, as it can get lonely practicing without others.
Aristotle’s three types of friendships is a model that has been helpful for me to understand my friendship landscape. He divides friendship into a tripartite: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of virtue. The first two friendships are pretty explanatory. Friendships of utility serve a functional purpose, as Aristotle states,
… friends whose affection is based on utility do not love each other in themselves, but in so far as some benefit accrues to them from each other.
Friendships of pleasure are based on agreeableness, hedonism, and what is fun. This is common with youth, as Aristotle observes:
… the young guide their lives by emotion, and for the most part pursue what is pleasant to themselves, and the object of the moment. And the things that please them change as their age alters; hence they both form friendships and drop them quickly, since their affections alter with what gives them pleasure, and the tastes of youth change quickly.
The last type of friendship, and the highest according to Aristotle, is friendships of virtue, or friendships of the good. This is when one expresses goodwill, and wants the best for another, for its own sake. In these friendships you desire your friend to be virtuous, and you desire to be virtuous in their presence. These are rare, as Aristotle notes:
Such friendships are of course rare, because such men are few. Moreover they require time and intimacy… people who enter into friendly relations quickly have the wish to be friends, but cannot really be friends without being worthy of friendship, and also knowing each other to be so; the wish to be friends is a quick growth, but friendship is not.
We have many institutions for utility and pleasure, but none for virtue. For most people in the normie work world, friendships of utility happen during their 9-to-5 job on weekdays, and during the evenings and weekends friendships of pleasure are enjoyed. In pre-COVID these could have been experienced in bars and clubs, now they are mostly being experienced on Twitter and in Clubhouse.
Utility and pleasure are not bad of course, but there is an emptiness there, waiting to be filled, if those are the only two you have. I am lucky that I have some friends who are virtue friends, but this is something I had to consciously work towards.
These virtuous friendships did not come from nowhere, I cultivated them by creating intense private mastermind groups and a crazy secret underground debate club. A sacred space needs to be carved out for these friendships to emerge. I do try to do this in my “daemonic whispering” practice. I shine agape onto my new friend, then quiet my mind, and act as if we are friends of virtue.
There is a great hunger in me to find the others; others who have openness for virtue. This feels perverse to say—perhaps because of the unvirtuous conditioning I was brought up with in this society—but I do desire to find others who have a wild readiness to die like a dog with me, while doing the right thing, even if no one sees us doing it.
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