In a short speech published in 1988 entitled "The Politics of Friendship," Jacques Derrida concluded with a distinction between two models of friendship, exemplified by Aristotle and Cicero on one hand and Montaigne on the other, and suggested that these two models lead toward different notions of politics: The Greco-Roman model [of friendship] appears to be marked by the value of reciprocity, by a homological, immanentist, finitist, and politicist concord. Montaigne (whom we are reading here as the example of a paradigm) doubtless inherits the majority of these traits. But he breaks the reciprocity therein and discreetly introduces, so it seems to me, heterology, asymmetry, and infinity . . . . Shall one say that this fracture is Judaeo-Christian? Shall one say that it depoliticizes the Greek model or that it displaces the nature of the political? (Derrida 1988: 643-4) Thus, if hesitantly and only in the form of a rhetorical question, Derrida seemed to oppose the Greek model of love between finite men with another model, foreign to the humanism of the Greeks: the Judaeo-Christian model of love of an infinite God.
Recommended CitationThurschwell, A., Friendship, Tradition, Democracy: Two Readings of Aristotle, Law Text Culture, 5, 2000.