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Philia ( Greek φιλία philía ) is in ancient Greek literature and philosophy a type of love in which the friendly relationship between lovers is in the foreground (mutual friendship). It is differentiated from erotic love ( Eros ), the main characteristic of which is the lover's intense desire, and agape , a love characterized by benevolence, which is emphasized in particular by Christian authors and does not necessarily presuppose or aim at the existence of a friendship.

Philia is already being treated by the pre-Socratics . Detailed investigations have been handed down by Plato in Lysis and by Aristotle . Aristotle deals with them in the eighth and ninth books of the Nicomachean Ethics . According to this there are three forms of Philia:

  • Philia based on mutual interest ( conditional love of interests ). Philia is dependent on the reaction of the beloved. Progressive - if you give you get back. However, it can also be regressive because it continues to degrade as the partner's reactions decrease. So it always depends on what comes back.
    Examples: I love you when we sleep together ...; I love you when you marry me ...; I love you because you are so beautiful ...; I love you because you take care of me ...; I love you as long as you are loyal to me ...
  • Philia based on mutual pleasure ( love is when it pleases )
  • Philia based on mutual recognition ( real love ):
    Aristotle writes that this type includes the other two and is at least the noblest kind of Philia.


  • Ralf Elm: Philia. In: Christoph Horn , Christof Rapp (Hrsg.): Dictionary of ancient philosophy . Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-47623-6 , pp. 337-339.
  • Hans Dietrich Hellbach: The love of friends in German literature. W. Hellbach, Leipzig 1931 (also philosophical dissertation Leipzig 1930).
  • Otfried Höffe : philia / friendship, love . In: Otfried Höffe (Hrsg.): Aristoteles-Lexikon (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 459). Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-45901-9 , pp. 445-448.
  • Anthony W. Price: Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1989, ISBN 0-19-824964-0 .
  • Peter Schulz: Friendship and self-love in Plato and Aristotle. Semantic studies on subjectivity and intersubjectivity . Alber, Freiburg 2000, ISBN 3-495-47985-6 .
  • Christa Seidel: Friendship . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Volume 2, Schwabe, Basel 1972, Sp. 1105–1114.