Aristotle views friendship as “a virtue, or involves virtue” (1155a5) which is necessary for every human being and can hold cities together. A friendship is lovable (either good, pleasant, or useful) and mutual. Based on different motivations of being friends with one another, people experience different categories of friendship; it involves seeking of utility, pleasure, and goodness. The love between friends is reciprocated and friends are aware of it. The difference is that friends who love each other for goodness stand at the highest level of friendship which is called the complete friendship. For this paper I would like to discuss three kinds of friendship first, and use Aristotle’s idea of self-love to demonstrate why I think his reasons for friendship are not adequate, especially for the third type of friendship: the complete friendship.
Friendship for those who love each other for utility is like a form of “trade”, in which the person obtains specific benefits from the other, and meanwhile offers the equal benefic that his friend would like. For instance, opposite people tend to get a maximum benefit from each other, since what they like is also what they do not own. They love their friends in a way to benefit themselves. Similarly, people who love their friends for pleasure want to be happy themselves. This type of friendship of pleasure can be based on the “transfers” of passions or pleasures between or among a group of friends. One reason for why young people such as college students are more likely to make friends than old people is that they are always passionate and regards pleasure as a great quality for them to be happy. They make friends with pleasurable people not because the friends themselves, inste...
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...sided of feeling is generated as B is another form of A. There is no way for self-love to be reciprocated, and thus it cannot become a form of friendship, and we would say friendship is an extension of self-love.
If A is self-love, he will find a friend B who has similar traits, feeling, and virtue in order for A to love B for B’s sake, and vice versa. Since this friendship is lovable and mutual, it is called a friendship. However, A’s love to B finally comes back to A, because B is actually “another self” of A. Ultimately A is still loving for himself through B in terms of a “medium”. Without the reciprocity of love and feeling, the relationship between A and B is not a friendship. Therefore, I think Aristotle’s reasons of friendship, especially of complete friendship cannot be established as long as the person owns an innate characteristic of loving himself.
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