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The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the nature and significance of online friendships using Aristotle’s theory of friendship. The essay begins with the presupposition that we are social beings and thus depend upon a variety of social relationships for the cultivation of both identity and meaning, however alterable these may prove to be. This being the case, it will be important to integrate these various relationships, as well as the obligations they imply, into our lives in a relatively coherent way. Insofar as many of our social interactions have moved into digitally-mediated and online contexts, we must consider the relationship of these virtual interactions and associations to those that have traditionally comprised our social lives. Upon evaluation, I find that many of these relationships parallel our common understanding of traditional friendships. They develop in much the same way, serve much the same purpose, and often have much the same significance within the total lives of individuals as do friendships outside the online context. At their best, such relationships are capable of playing the moral role that Aristotle envisioned for them. Further, the nature and context of such relationships may reveal important insights for reconsidering our closest friendships outside of this environment.

In: Frontiers of Cyberspace

The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the nature and significance of online friendships using Aristotle’s theory of friendship. The essay begins with the presupposition that we are social beings and thus depend upon a variety of social relationships for the cultivation of both identity and meaning, however alterable these may prove to be. This being the case, it will be important to integrate these various relationships, as well as the obligations they imply, into our lives in a relatively coherent way. Insofar as many of our social interactions have moved into digitally-mediated and online contexts, we must consider the relationship of these virtual interactions and associations to those that have traditionally comprised our social lives. Upon evaluation, I find that many of these relationships parallel our common understanding of traditional friendships. They develop in much the same way, serve much the same purpose, and often have much the same significance within the total lives of individuals as do friendships outside the online context. At their best, such relationships are capable of playing the moral role that Aristotle envisioned for them. Further, the nature and context of such relationships may reveal important insights for reconsidering our closest friendships outside of this environment.

In: Frontiers of Cyberspace
This volume was first published by Inter-Disciplinary Press in 2011.

The papers collected in this volume document the exchange and development of ideas that comprised the 5th Global Conference on Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace, and Science Fiction, hosted at Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom, in July 2010. As in the past, the conference was driven by questions related to how cyberculture, cyberspace and science fiction can provide new insights into the nature of what it is to be human and the understanding of what it means for human beings to live in communities. In addition to these recurring themes, there is just as importantly a disposition that is shared by those participating in this volume. The authors, as well the writers, thinkers, and filmmakers they consider in their essays, demonstrate an intrepid and inquisitive approach that tests age-old questions within the rapidly expanding, but still vaguely defined spaces that new technologies have afforded us. Moreover, in many ways, the conference and present volume reflect their subject, which has always been situated self-consciously and comfortably between the receding boundaries that have traditionally served both to delineate various academic disciplines and to distinguish real scholarship from popular discourse. Thus, as evidenced in the chapters of this volume, the conference benefited from the participation of delegates who represented a variety of fields, methodologies, and perspectives.
In: The Projected and Prophetic: Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace, and Science Fiction