Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pleasure, Utility and Virtue

A fascinating essay in The Australian this morning by Tim Soutphommasane. I have a couple of his books which are essentially collected essays: 'Reclaiming Patriotism'; and, 'All that's Left - What Labor should stand for'. He is one of those 'progressive' thinkers that are often derided in this day and age where pragmatism has it all over policy. I like to read him and then read Chris Berg from the IPA (arghh!!) as a sort of antidote. Who of whom, I am not sure. Berg has an interesting essay in the SMH this morning tearing strips off the 'Occupy Wall Street' concept. The thing that fascinates me about OWS is that this is presented as some kind of 'progressive' movement. To me they read like minutely to the left of our own Anti-Carbon-Tax crowd. BTW, I agreed with Berg in this essay. Scares me, that! Like when I agree with Gerard or Janet. I have to have a glass of Shiraz and go did in the potting mix.

Now to Tim. He is an interesting bloke - young man. One of those who came here from Asia (Thailand) to study and eventually just did not go back. Goodo. He has many points in this essay to cogitate upon:
the most number of friends a person can manage to maintain any meaningful personalised interaction with is about 150.

Even then, a typical collection of friends will usually resemble a set of concentric circles. At the core, there may be an inner circle of, say, five: our most intimate friends. Surrounding them is a layer of 10 or so. Then there is another 35 in the next circle, and another 100 in the one outside it.
He then goes on to distinguish between friends and acquaintances. And my title? Tim (and Aristotle, oops) reckons these are qualities that friends contribute to our life, or that WE take from knowing them. And it is those who show goodness and character, virtue, who will matter the most to us.

Phew! I have nowhere near 150 friends. But if I follow the concentric circle schema, and make a distinction between friends and acquaintancees, I feel mucho better. And there is the distinction between 'real friends' and 'virtual friends'.

I also wondered, where do family fit into this schema? And, so pondering, I include gratuitous family images. Have I ever told you that my daughter has a daughter ...


brattcat said...

and where do blog friends fit into all of this?

freefalling said...

If I had 150 friends, my head would explode.

I've been thinking a lot this year about the topic of friends.
What else have you got to tell us on this topic?
I'd be interested to hear.

Did you watch The Slap the other night?
Have you read it?

Joan Elizabeth said...

I have nowhere near 150 friends. Even if I went mad on facebook connecting up with all the old work mates who were willing to friend me I reckon I would fall short.

I love the little worker girl doing the mowing.