Aristotle on the Nature of Friendship

Abstract

One part of the investigations into human nature in the Nicomachean Ethics is the subject of friendship. Two whole books, Book Eight and Book Nine, are dedicated to analyses on this subject. Aristotle uses the Greek word philia, for what we would call friendship. In Book Eight Aristotle proposes that there are three different types of friendship, each with corresponding circumstances that in a way determine each type. There are friendships based on utility, pleasure, and the good. If Aristotle’s goal in his investigations in the Nicomachean Ethics is to determine the best way to lead a good life, and to achieve eudaimonia, or human flourishing, then perhaps understanding what friendship is and in fact having good friends is a prerequisite for the acquisition of a life which may be called truly good. This paper will analyze Aristotle’s arguments on the nature of friendship and will examine in what ways that friendship indeed is a component required for living a good life. Of the three types of friendship that exist, however, it is only friendship of the good that is to be sought in the search for eudaimonia. This is because in friendships based on utility or pleasure it would be possible to be friends with a wicked person. This study will analyze Aristotle’s arguments for the three types of friendships and show how his distinctions are relevant to the modern world. This study will also propose that by understanding Aristotle’s distinctions one may achieve a clarity concerning human relations.



Author Information
Joseph Karuzis, Hokkaido University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2015
Stream: Ethics - Comparative Ethics

This paper is part of the ACERP2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
Full Paper
View / Download the full paper in a new tab/window

Posted by amp21