Online Aristotelian Character Friendship as an Augmented Form of Penpalship

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This paper adds ammunition to recent arguments for the possibility of online character friendships in the Aristotelian sense. It does so by exploring sustained and deep email correspondence or epalship as a potential venue for the creation, development and maintenance of character friendships, and by drawing an analogy with a historically famous example of penpalship: that forged between Voltaire and Catherine the Great. It is argued that epalships allow for various technological extensions in the cyberworld of today that were not available to Voltaire and Catherine; and that augmented with those extensions, there is even more reason for seeing epalships as potentially making the grade as true character friendships than traditional penpalships. However, despite being potentially categorisable as character friendships, mature epalships are vulnerable to the same problems and pitfalls as other examples of character friendships, and perhaps even more so: pitfalls that were mostly overlooked by Aristotle himself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalPhilosophy and Technology
Early online date16 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2019


  • Online friendships
  • Aristotle
  • Character friendships
  • Epalships
  • Voltaire and Catherine the Great


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