We are social creatures. We surround ourselves with other human beings, our friends. It is in our nature. We are constantly trying to broaden the circumference of our circle of friends. Aristotle understood the importance of friendship, books VIII and IX of the Nicomachean Ethics deal solely with this topic. A modern day definition of a friend can be defined as “one joined to another in intimacy and mutual benevolence independently of sexual or family love”. (Oxford English Dictionary). Aristotle’s view on friendship is much broader than this. His arguments are certainly not flawless. In this essay I will outline what Aristotle said about friendship in the Nichomachaen Ethics and highlight possible flaws in his arguments.
Friendship for Aristotle (and Greeks in general), as mentioned above, is much broader than the definition given in the O.E.D. Aristotle regards less intimate bonds as friendships as well as the intimate relationship in the modern definition. Relationships between husband and wife, father and son, neighbors, business partners, team members, members of a political party, teacher and student, etc would all be viewed as friendships in Aristotle’s eyes (Russell McNeil). However he does distinguish between different types of friendship.
Friendships for Aristotle can be divided into three main categories.
1. Friendships of Utility
2. Friendships of Pleasure
3. Friendships of Virtue.
1. Friendships of Utility
Friendships of utility are based on people who are useful to each other. This is the sole reason behind them being friends. A good example of a friendship of utility might be the relationship between a car salesman and a car buyer (John L. Fjellstad). The...
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...erent friendships in our life.
In this essay I have outlined some of Aristotle’s views on friendship as he discussed in the Nichomachaen Ethics, books VIII and XI. I have also given my own arguments on why I do not agree with certain arguments made by Aristotle and the arguments of Kant, also in opposition of Aristotle, as well as Aristotle’s counter arguments.
Aristotle; Nicomachean Ethics; ed. by Richard McKeon; Book VIII-IX
Clancey, R, Friendship According to Aristotle, 27th Nov 2001 [date accessed]
Fjellstad, John L, Aristotle’s Account of True Friendship, 27th November 2001 [date accessed].
Ross, W.D, Exerpts From Aristotle’s Ethics, 27th Nov 2001 [date accessed]
Russell, J.S., Aristotle on Friendship, 27th Nov 2001 [date accessed]
Russell McNeil, Aristotle on Friendship, 27th November 2001 [date accessed].
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