Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aristotle
Pages of Nicomachean Ethics



Previous | Next
                  

Nicomachean Ethics   


love their friends, and it is thought to be a fine thing to have many
friends; and again we think it is the same people that are good men
and are friends.
Not a few things about friendship are matters of debate. Some define
it as a kind of likeness and say like people are friends, whence come
the sayings 'like to like', 'birds of a feather flock together', and
so on; others on the contrary say 'two of a trade never agree'. On
this very question they inquire for deeper and more physical causes,
Euripides saying that 'parched earth loves the rain, and stately
heaven when filled with rain loves to fall to earth', and Heraclitus
that 'it is what opposes that helps' and 'from different tones comes
the fairest tune' and 'all things are produced through strife'; while
Empedocles, as well as others, expresses the opposite view that like
aims at like. The physical problems we may leave alone (for they do
not belong to the present inquiry); let us examine those which are
human and involve character and feeling, e.g. whether friendship can
arise between any two people or people cannot be friends if they are
wicked, and whether there is one species of friendship or more than
one. Those who think there is only one because it admits of degrees
have relied on an inadequate indication; for even things different in
species admit of degree. We have discussed this matter previously.
2
The kinds of friendship may perhaps be cleared up if we first come to
know the object of love. For not everything seems to be loved but only
the lovable, and this is good, pleasant, or useful; but it would seem
to be that by which some good or pleasure is produced that is useful,
so that it is the good and the useful that are lovable as ends. Do men
love, then, the good, or what is good for them? These sometimes clash.
So too with regard to the pleasant. Now it is thought that each loves
what is good for himself, and that the good is without qualification
lovable, and what is good for each man is lovable for him; but each
man loves not what is good for him but what seems good. This however
will make no difference; we shall just have to say that this is 'that
which seems lovable'. Now there are three grounds on which people
love; of the love of lifeless objects we do not use the word
'friendship'; for it is not mutual love, nor is there a wishing of
good to the other (for it would surely be ridiculous to wish wine
well; if one wishes anything for it, it is that it may keep, so that
one may have it oneself); but to a friend we say we ought to wish what
is good for his sake. But to those who thus wish good we ascribe only
goodwill, if the wish is not reciprocated; goodwill when it is
reciprocal being friendship. Or must we add 'when it is recognized'?
For many people have goodwill to those whom they have not seen but
judge to be good or useful; and one of these might return this
feeling. These people seem to bear goodwill to each other; but how
could one call them friends when they do not know their mutual
feelings? To be friends, then, the must be mutually recognized as
bearing goodwill and wishing well to each other for one of the
aforesaid reasons.
3
Now these reasons differ from each other in kind; so, therefore, do
the corresponding forms of love and friendship. There are therefore
three kinds of friendship, equal in number to the things that are
lovable; for with respect to each there is a mutual and recognized
love, and those who love each other wish well to each other in that
respect in which they love one another. Now those who love each other
for their utility do not love each other for themselves but in virtue
of some good which they get from each other. So too with those who
love for the sake of pleasure; it is not for their character that men
love ready-witted people, but because they find them pleasant.
Therefore those who love for the sake of utility love for the sake of
what is good for themselves, and those who love for the sake of
pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves, and not
in so far as the other is the person loved but in so far as he is

Previous | Next
Site Search