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Erasmus and the Natural History of Friendship

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In his colloquy Amicitia, Erasmus uses Pliny's Historia naturalis as the primary source for an energetic and inventive exploration of the topic of friendship. Like certain animals and objects in the natural world, friends share a natural affinity, but Erasmus goes further than this natural-historical observation, concluding that the moral life requires from us a more active relationship to our instincts and inclinations. Apposing two senses of the word amicitia, natural affinity and personal friendship, Erasmus ultimately suggests an intimate relationship between natural history and moral philosophy.


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