Aristotle on Friendship

“[Friendship] is a virtue or implies virtue, and is besides most necessary with a view of living. For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or how can prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends? The greater it is, the more exposed it is to risk. (Book VIII, Chapter 1, 1155a 1-11)

Man by nature is a social animal, inclined towards the company of others,” John said. “The need for familial attachments, friends, and a society proves this. Without which life is empty and meaningless. Life is meant to be shared.”

“Many times we try so hard to become friends of some sort and it all comes crashing ahead. It’s got to have some lasting foundation in order to survive. Let’s dive further into Aristotle, for what he may offer:

 [P]arents seem by nature to feel [friendship] for offspring and offspring for parents, not only among men but among birds and among most animals; it is felt mutually by members of the same race, and especially [in human beings], whence we praise lovers of [humankind].” (Book VIII, Chapter 1, 1155a 16-21)

“Birds and bees and many more mammals join in collective living,” John said. “One can see the bond with which they have towards one another. A case of true friendship outside races can be found In the Odyssey. After twenty years, Odysseus comes and sees his lovingly loyal dog Argos, and so overcome with happiness, by the sight of his master, that Argos–the first to recognize Odysseus–jumped for joy. However, Argos was old of age and his heart halted as he dared to run to his master. This lasting image proves that Dogs certainly can be a man’s best friend.

There are three types of friendships which may overlap each other,” John said. “The first type of friendship is the friendship of pleasure. Once the pleasure is gone the friendship ceases to exist.  Nothing wrong with this, but little right. An example of this is old drinking pals. Once one of the friends stops drinking, however, the friendship ends. The second type of friendship is a friendship of utility. In a world of trade and commerce, this type of friendship is everywhere. This useful type of friendship is ever present in politics and networking.  The third type of friendship is a perfected, or complete, friendship. Here one wants what is good for the other for the other’s own sake, and not for their own. It’s a form of altruism do you see? There is nothing self-regarding about this. Here, one recognizes and helps realize the potential of another and helps lift them equal to them self and vice versa. These are friendships of a lifetime. These people share in greatness of virtue so to be life time companions.

These complete friendships contain pleasure and also might contain usefulness, However, in a marriage, for instance, the ideal couple would want what is best for the other for the other’s sake. Harkening back to Plato’s Symposium, where the creature is split in half by Zeus, marriage can complete a person and, with love, help each other climb upwards towards the heavens. In Plato’s Phaedrus we see a perfected friendship with Socrates and his young pulpil. through speeches and the dialectic, he instructs the youth on the topic of love and restraint. At the very end, Phaedrus praises Socrates and Socrates, in return, only wants what is best for his friend Phaedrus.

Friendships should be proportionately equal too,” John said, “but what is equal might not always be equal in kind. For example, when a tragedy lifts and moves a crowded theater, a standing ovation and good reviews ought to be commended to the creators, cast, and crew. The viewers are part of the production because they have tuned themselves empathetically into a relationship with the characters, and see meaning in the theme of the tragedy. So, their friendship is equal, but the friendship that is reciprocated is done so in a different manner.

However, Mothers who love their children may not receive the same amount of love, proportionally, as which they give. The same might happen with the perfected teacher who loves their students. It’s like the artist who paints a picture which will never love him back.  However, he feels affection for his piece of art regardless, because it is a part of himself—a part of his very own existence; just like students are a part of a teacher’s existence, and children are to a parent’s existence. All we can do is try to perfect our art until we finally believe that this is the best we can do. Doing so is its own reward for the selfless parents and teachers.”

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