In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that there are three distinct types of friendship: utility, pleasure, and complete. Both utility and pleasure friendships are fueled by self-gain defined by usefulness or pleasantness. These friendships are coincidental and easily dissolve due to lack of foundation among many other factors. Aristotle believes the ultimate friendship between two individuals is complete friendship. In this enduring relationship, both parties wish the same good on the other as one would wish upon oneself. Aristotle specifies that this friendship is only viable between two people of similar, high virtuous standards. Vicious persons would not partake in this, as they would see no benefit in the union. Nonetheless, it can be argued that complete friendship does not require both parties to be completely virtuous. Although Aristotle skillfully delineates the extremes of character, there is much to be analyzed of “decent” people. Individuals rarely, if ever, exist in the absolute world of virtue or vicious yet, complete friendship is still attainable.
While a complete friendship deplete of all virtue cannot subsist, individuals of varying scope of both natures can experience both pleasure and utility friendships. Within Aristotle’s framework, these friendships are relatively superficial and do not require a significant amount of time, effort, or concern. However, a complete friendship must still have some virtue present due to its intrinsic meaning. Truly vicious people only care for themselves and place little to no importance on anyone else. Regardless of the other party, even if one is of the utmost virtue, vicious people are steadfast in this mindset. This woul...
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...er to succeed and accomplish virtue. “To care about something is generally to find it worthwhile or valuable in some way; caring about one’s friend is no exception” (Kraut). This quotation from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggests that value in the other individual must be present to sustain a complete friendship. Wishing the best for another, regardless if one is of the utmost virtue, is just as much applicable.
While Aristotle clearly delineates the extremes of virtuous and vicious people engaging in a complete friendship, the realities are significantly more complex as individual’s do not possess the extremes and certainly do not interact on this basis. “Decent” individuals do have the potential to experience a complete friendship. In this way, individuals and society on the whole can continue to advance toward the ideal of complete virtuosity.
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