We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Aristotle on Friendship Essay Sample

essay

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Introduction of TOPIC

Friendship is a bond in which many individuals make every effort to achieve, although the meaning of it is not known to them. Individuals surround themselves with other humans, their friends, in order to achieve a greater happiness. It has become part of human nature. Friendship has become such a part of human nature that it can be seen in examples such as a human’s hierarchy of needs created by Maslow1. Constantly individuals strive to broaden their circumference of their circle of friends, because they are being pressured towards making ‘perfect’ friendships through stories, media, family, and education. Aristotle wrote of the significance of friendship in books VIII and IX of the Nicomachean Ethics, which deal exclusively with friendship. In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he proclaims that there are two different categories of friendship; perfect and imperfect. He considers that the greatest friendship anybody can obtain is a perfect friendship. However before a person can discuss Aristotle’s perfect and imperfect friendships, they must first understand the meaning of philia. Philia, is a Greek word which translates to “friendship” which is an emotional connection amongst human beings.

This connection or bond provides the foundation for all forms of relations among people. In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he expresses friendship in terms of philia. This idea is completely different then the modern classification as it is more general in its explanation. Aristotle’s account of friendship has been challenged numerous times, as many individuals see no place for friendship or philia in ethics. While referring to Aristotle’s breakdown of friendship, friendship has a place and is appropriate in ethics, as individuals have a special moral obligation to the people with whom they share a relationship, as opposed to those of whom they do not. Aristotle recognizes three classes of friendship; the friendship for utility, friendship for pleasure, and finally the virtuous friendship. These classes of friendship are considered when discussing the imperfect and perfect friendships. This then leads to the definition of the imperfect friendship, friendship established completely on mutual utility and/or mutual pleasures, which in both circumstances are brief and quite simply dissolved. Aristotle describes this since the friendships “were not enduring; that is why the friendships also are transient”

The first friendship, friendship for utility, is believed to be the most insecure. “Those who exchange utility rather than pleasure in their erotic relations are friends to a lesser extent and less enduring friends”. The individuals who enter into these friendships love one another for the value obtained from each other, and not for friendship itself. It is a reciprocated arrangement made in order to trade utilities as each individual owns something that the other individual desires. An example of this is when an older gentleman gets into a relationship with the younger woman in the form of a ‘sugar daddy’. In this relationship the older gentleman is using the younger woman for his sexual desires, whereas the younger woman is using the older gentleman for his money. Both individuals in this case entered into the relationship with mutual knowledge of the utility each would receive. The second friendship, friendship for pleasure, this friendship is also usually mutual, and tends not to last for a long period of time. This friendship is created amongst two individuals that wish to achieve pleasure from one another. Aristotle writes “the lover takes pleasure in seeing his beloved, but the beloved takes pleasure in being courted by his lover”

For this friendship Aristotle uses young people as an example, as they live under the direction of their emotions, and sexual desires. In this friendship, both individuals do not really care about each other’s problems or feelings, but they enjoy each other’s company. An example of a friendship for pleasure is people who go to football games together, or a club together as they are friends for their own sake as the friendship brings pleasure. However this is the

extent to their friendship, because the friends do not truly care for one another. Finally there is

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
friendship for virtue which creates the perfect friendship. The virtuous friendship is the friendship in which both individuals admire the other’s ‘goodness’ and help each other to strive for goodness. This relationship tends to last a longer time, but can only occur among two people with the same virtues and both individuals have to be virtuous. “Clearly, however, only good people can be friends to each other because of the other person himself”.

Aristotle claims that individuals in a virtuous friendship are one, as he believes they view this friend as another self. The entire reason that Aristotle lays out all of these definitions is to prove that friendship is a necessity of a virtuous life, and that “without friends no one would choose to live”7, meaning that because friendship is such a large portion of an individual’s life, they have a moral obligation to these friends. On the other hand some individuals disagree with Aristotle’s stating that people have no more moral obligations to their friends than strangers on the street. They believe that the only true person you have an obligation to is yourself. If given the ethical dilemma of one of their friends dying and five strangers dying they would see how each loss affects them. They may choose to save the friend for a selfish reason like not wanting to have to find another friend. They could argue that saving them was not because they had a moral obligation to, but simply because it was in their best interest.

Aristotle however can fight this by stating that this friendship would then be based on utility. By allowing the friend to live over the strangers because you do not want to find someone new, it shows you are using this friend for their company. Although this relationship may not be a perfect friendship, the individual was obligated to save them as they were using them. Another argument may be that one does not need friends to reach the aim of human action: happiness. Individuals may dispute that they can be virtuous and live a virtuous life without a friend. For example, virtue can be achieved without the use of another person, as one can live on their own to work on themselves and make themselves a virtuous person. A virtuous being is somebody who does the distinguishing action of being human well8. These persons believe that they are doing the acts that a virtuous person would do, that they have a virtuous character, and that they have virtuous thoughts. These individuals may understand what it takes to be virtuous; they intend to do what it is they are doing, that they intend it for its own sake, and finally that they act with confidence and steadfastness. As none of these requirements state friendship, or even other individuals, many may argue that they are unnecessary in ethics.

Aristotle believes however, that the virtuous being requires friends for the uncomplicated reason that relationships are a large portion of human nature, and that having friendships appears to be one of the highest external goods. He also believes a virtuous person gains virtue of thought through teaching. In order for a person to be taught they need someone to teach them, therefore they need to form a relationship with another person. Although this relationship may not be a perfect friendship, it would be a friendship based on utility. Aristotle’s main argument to this is that no one would choose to live alone, as humans are social creatures whose nature is to live with others. Therefore the happy man needs friends. When two individuals decide to bear children special obligations are put on them. It is thought that since the parents generally choose to bring the child into the world, they have special obligations to them. When asking any parent if they would save their child’s life over a stranger’s, they would choose their child. This is because there is a sort of duty of the parent towards their child. There is also a special obligation for the child to take care of the parent.

Since the parent gave the child life, helped them to sustain life, and taught them to grow, the child than has a moral obligation to his or her parents. Aristotle writes “it would be thought that in the matter of food we should help our parents before all other, since we owe our own nourishment to them”9. Even a parent who chooses to give their child away does so because they feel morally obligated to give them the best life in which they can. No matter the culture or religion a person is from, they choose to put their family or friend above the whole, as these are the people in which they relate with and choose to keep close to them. In conclusion, individuals have special obligations to whom they have relationships with, due to these special obligations Aristotle’s account of friendship belongs in ethics. No matter the religion or culture a person is from they hold a special moral obligation to their family.

Although many individuals may deny it, they would choose to save the life a friend before they would a stranger, although in some situations this may seem ethically wrong. This can be reasoned to the fact that friendship brings us happiness, which is the end goal of humans. To seek friendships is part of human nature as we are all social beings. Aristotle states at one point that “without friends no one would choose to live”10, and in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs he puts friendship as a human necessity. Friendship is a necessity in human life, found in every story, movie, or textbook. It can be seen throughout history, in the present and will inevitably be seen in the future. Based on this fact, friendship has a rightful place within ethics. Individuals strive to achieve friendships, even without knowing the complete definition. In order to find true happiness a person must find true friendship.

We can write a custom essay on

Aristotle on Friendship Essay Sample ...
According to Your Specific Requirements.

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Discuss Ayckbourn's Presentation of the Three Wives...

'Absent Friends' is a short play written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1974. This play tells of the relationships between three different couples each displaying their own individual problems that occur within their marriage. The six characters meet at Diana and Paul's house for afternoon tea, waiting for an old friend (Colin) to arrive and with the pressures and combine troubles of the marriages, this leads to a very strained atmosphere in which 'the cream' incident arises. After reading and studying the play, I believe that Marge and Gordon have the most stable marriage although we do not meet Gordon in person, only by several telephone conversations. The reason I think this is because they care for each other however Marge is very overprotective towards her hypochondriac husband Gordon, who seems to lie in bed all day and have various accidents with hot water bottles and cough mixture. Marge also refers...

The Appeal Of The Situation Comedy "Friends"

One of the main points of appeal about the situation comedy "Friends" is the characters. The show is largely character driven so the characters are all interesting people whom the audience will wants to see over and over again. An example of this is Chandler, played by Matt Perry. His mother is a glamorous novelist, yet his father is a gay drag artist working in Las Vegas. Chandler hates Thanksgiving, as it was the time when his parents announced that they were going to divorce. He works as a financial analyst, yet much humour has been created from the other friends not understanding what his job is. For instance, in one episode where the friends have a quiz, men against women, and one of the questions asked of the women is "What is Chandlers job?" the women are not able to answer the question correctly. Another character trait that can...

''Friends'' - Stereotyping, Representation, Audience and the...

You have been watching various episodes of the popular sitcom 'FRIENDS'. Using this to support your essay, think about the idea of sitcom? What is it? Why is it so popular? Analyse 'FRIENDS' taking into consideration, stereotyping, representation, audience and the sitcom genre. 'Friends' is an American sitcom based in glamorous city, New York. Like most sitcoms from America, this has been a hit all over the world. Friends are about six people in their mid-twenties doing every day things. There's fusspot Monica (Courtney Cox Arquette), Clueless Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Shopaholic Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Sweet, neurotic Ross (David Schwimmer) and hunky Joey (Matt Le Blanc). And then there's wisecracking Chandler (Matthew Perry). They all live in New York, in expensive and desirable apartments. This conveys to as viewers that their lives are very busy, 'normal' and they are well off with good jobs. Joey and Chandler share an apartment together...

Popular Essays

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?