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The Nicomachean Ethics

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In Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics, he explicates the basic principles of friendship. However, he does not only explain friendship between two people. Aristotle delves further into the topic and sheds light on “intrapersonal” friendship – friendship with oneself. Although this idea of comprehending the relationship people have with their own selves might seem intricate and hard to understand, Aristotle applies the same principles of interpersonal friendship to the kind of friendship people have with themselves. By distinguishing which type of friendship internal friendship belongs to, defining what a friend is, and attributing that definition to both good men and bad men, Aristotle relates friendship to self-love.
Earlier in The Nicomachean Ethics, specifically in Book VIII, Aristotle states that friendship is threefold. There are three types of friendship which deal with three different concepts: utility, pleasure, and goodness. The first kind is where both parties essentially use each other for material goods. In this case, the two people do not love each other, but only love the profit they benefit from. The second kind is friendship of pleasure, where both entities enjoy the other’s qualities, such as intelligence, appearance, etc. Finally, there is the friendship of goodness. This friendship is said to be the most true and perfect. In this relationship, both individuals admire each other’s goodness and desire goodness for one another. One might ask, where does internal friendship fit into this threefold system? This can be figured out through a process of elimination. First, one must divide this person into two entities: the person and themselves. Immediately, we can eradicate the friendship of utility, for the person ca...

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... opposite of these good things. For example, given the type of friendship that is associated with internal friendship, a bad man cannot be friends with himself. Evidently, a bad man does not do good things and cannot desire good things for himself.
This being said, friendship is based on self-love. The friendship of the goodness deals with love since people who love each other want wants best for the other person. Therefore, a good man will ultimately love himself since he desires what is good for himself, as stated earlier. On the other hand, a bad person cannot love himself because he cannot be friends with himself. It seems to be that friendship is directly correlated to love. Therefore, internal friendship corresponds with self-love, meaning that in order to be friends with oneself, you must also love oneself.

Works Cited

The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
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