Nicomachean Ethics: Friendship, Virtue and Happiness

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In the writings of Aristotle, seen in Nicomachean Ethics, it is evident that Aristotle believes that friendship is necessary for a virtuous and therefore happy life. I believe that this is accurate due to the similar conditions necessary for a complete friendship and a happy life. It is also evident that friendship is useful in achieving a happy life because friendship can make performing virtuous actions easier. His interpretation can be misunderstood and mistakes in practice can be made, so we will need to discuss these follies as well, in order to understand all the effects of friendship on achieving a happy life.

Let us first examine the similarities of friendship with that of happiness and virtue, which we discussed previously is the most necessary part of a happy life. Aristotle describes happiness by saying “happiness is most choiceworthy of all the goods (1097b17-18).” His idea of choiceworthy is something we choose “because of itself, never because of something else (1097b).” Friendship is seen as similar to happiness when Aristotle describes friendship as “choiceworthy in its own right (1159a27).” Proven earlier, virtue is necessary for a happy life because “happiness is a certain sort of activity of the soul in accord with virtue (1099b26-27).” Since virtue is such an integral part of happiness, the similarity between friendship and virtue is relevant to the relationship between friendship and a happy life. Aristotle describes virtues as “states (1106a14),” and at the same time describes friendship as “a state (1157b30),” as well. He goes on further to say, “Just as, in the case of virtues, some people are called good in their state of character, others good in their activity, the same i...

... middle of paper ... difficult (1158a14-16).”

Conclusively, the similarities of friendship and virtue allow the two states to correspond with one another in a happy life. The purpose of friendship is not only to coexist with virtue but also, by the actions of friends, virtue and friendship strengthen one another, making happiness all the more easy to attain because of it. Aristotle sums it up nicely, by saying “the friendship of decent people is decent, and increases the more often they meet. And they seem to become better still from their activities and their mutual correction. For each molds the other in a what they approve of, so that you will learn what is noble from noble people (1172a11-14).”

Bibliography: Works Cited

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. David Ross, trans. J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson, revisions. Oxford World’s Classics paperback, 1998.

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