Friendship In Aristotle: The Nature Of Friendship

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What is the nature of friendship? This is a question that many philosophers have attempted to answer. The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, examines this question and theorizes about the concept of friendship in his work Nicomachean Ethics. Friendship is the “cement of society and extends throughout the human race”. It is clear from Aristotle’s writings that he believes that friendship is a necessary part of achieving happiness and should be highly valued. In Book VIII of Nicomachean Ethics, he clearly distinguishes three different kinds of friendships that people encounter in life: friendships of utility, pleasure, and virtue. The first two types that he explains, utility and pleasure, are not true friendships. Only a friendship of virtue …show more content…
Friendships of utility are built for each individual’s personal gain. Aristotle describes people in utility friendships as “friends whose affection is based on utility do not love each other in themselves, but in so far as some benefit accrues to them from each other”. This means that despite the mutual love they share, it is selfish. The friendships formed for utility are basically just business transactions or trade-offs. They are only intact when there is something to be gained or received from the other. Aristotle views this type of friendship as “easily broken off” because “utility is not a permanent quality; it differs at different times”. Just as quickly as these friendships are created, they are rapidly broken due to their ever changing nature. If one person stops giving the other what they want, it is likely that the other person will stop interacting with them and get the good elsewhere. This is a very useful friendship, but not a true one. There is no real relationship between these people and often no emotional connection. An example of a friendship of utility is between a person and their mail carrier. They may see each other every day and exchange pleasantries, but the only reason this relationship exists is because the mail carrier gives the person their mail. Once the mail carrier stops providing mail to the person, the friendship will end, and the two people will most likely never speak to each other again. Another example of a friendship based on utility would be classmates in a school. The students could see each other every day, talk to each other, and compare homework answers, but once the class ends, so does the friendship. As soon as the the mutual benefit they were receiving, the answers to homework and therefore, better grades, ends, so does the friendship because neither party is gaining anything. Without the incentive of obtaining a good, the two people in the friendship

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