Friendship and kings

According to al-Sijistanl, the friendship of kings and their agents is not valid, since their relationships, among themselves and towards the rest of people, “are run on the basis of fear, power, oppression, passion, impulsiveness, caprice, and flightiness”.80 Unlike Aristotle, who allowed the inclusion of friendships in pleasure and utility, al-Sijistanl and al-Tawhldl reject these types of friendship.81 This shows, as Pangle argues, reluctance on the part of Aristotle to be harsh to the vast majority of mankind, to assert that they are simply incapable of friendship, since most people fall short of virtue (according to Aristotle) and most friendships are really associations of utility.82 Al-Sijistanl is critical of the vices of kings, since a king in the current state of corruption is not capable of cultivating virtue and lives partly for his own interest and not for any particular interest in society. This statement corresponds to Mottahedeh’s description of the Buyid king as being above hierarchies and not identified with the categories present in the population, finding it to his advantage to avoid involvement in the improvement of society, which is the ultimate aim of friendship.83 It may be to this that al-Sijistanl refers when he says about kings: “they are mighty above friendship”.84 As discussed in the previous chapter, the king kept society fragmented, and manipulated his subjects. Therefore, he may have sustained the existence of society, but not the moral order required of a harmonious society, which only comes through friendship.85

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