In these two books, Aristotle talked about friendship. He started by stating what the three different types of friendship are. The first type is when it is based on utility. This type of friendship is all about getting a benefit from someone else, and it will change according to circumstances. If a person doesn’t get benefits from the other anymore, the friendship will cease to be present. Benefits don’t have to be the only ground for friendship of this type, but there are definitely clear benefits involved. One example of this type of friendship Aristotle gave was friendships with foreigners. The second type of friendship is based on pleasure. In this type, you find the other person entertaining, and it is more about the experience of being near the person than anything else. This type is common between young people because young people’s lives are regulated by feelings. These friendships come and go often, and the friend doesn’t bring much to the friendship. The last type of friendship is based on goodness.
This is when two “good” people are friends for the sake of each other. Both people in this friendship wish for the good of the other, and this type of relationship is most durable. Aristotle considered this type to be the perfect friendship. He didn’t care for the first two types because they are both short-lived, and they are circumstantial (Pgs. 203-208). Next, Aristotle talked about friendships that involved superiority. One example of this that was explained was the relationship between a parent and a child. Since the parent is more virtuously mature than the child, it is an unequal relationship. The more virtuous person is supposed to foster the virtue in the other person, and the child, or less virtuous person, needs to love that person, and offer them respect and honor in a much higher quantity in order to equal out the relationship between the two (Pgs. 211-213). Aristotle also explained the different types of constitutions. He believed the most important area for virtues is in the larger scale of a community, and he thought that friendships and politics could cooperate because it is a good thing to be friends with the virtuous people who are running your community.
The three types of constitutions were monarchy, aristocracy, and timocracy. Out of these, he thought that monarchy was the best, and timocracy, was the worst option. For monarchy, Aristotle thought it would be best to have one virtuous person in control, but if it is corrupt, thus becoming a tyranny, it could turn into the worst possible scenario. In a tyranny, the person in control looks out for themselves instead of the other people they are supposed to be caring for. An example of this could be the slave and master example. An example of a monarchy could be the relationship that is help between a father and a son. Next, was Aristocracy. An example of this is, according to Aristotle, between husband and wife.
The husband in this type will hand over certain things to the wife that he deems as appropriate for her to handle herself. The perversion of this type would be oligarchy. Finally, timocracy is when all people who are fairly equal, as far as qualifications, have equal rights. One example of this is between two brothers, and the perversion for this type is democracy (Pgs. 216-223). Another subject that Aristotle mentioned was if self-love was justifiable. He stated that you can love yourself to the degree that you are worthy of, so therefore, you can love yourself and still be a good friend to others. Also, he said that if you are a selfish person, you need to realize that, and that you shouldn’t have self-love. Another exception was that if your friends are more virtuous than you are, you should love them more than you love yourself (Pgs. 243-246).
Aristotle also touched on the subject of whether quantity or quality meant more as far as friends go. He said that it isn’t possible for us to have a lot of friends who we love for their sake and goodness alone, so we must have just a few of this type. So therefore, instead of having a large amount of superficial and meaningless relationships, we should have a smaller amount of deep and intimate relationships, and work on keeping them strong and healthy. Aristotle also stated that people really need friends in the times of adversity and misfortune because friends help us through these tough times and they provide us with comfort, but for many people, it is much more enjoyable to have friends when everything is going great. This is because when things are going great for you, you are more able to help others (Pgs. 249-252).