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Nicomachean Ethics   


become the friend of one who surpasses him in station, unless he is
surpassed also in virtue; if this is not so, he does not establish
equality by being proportionally exceeded in both respects. But people
who surpass him in both respects are not so easy to find.
However that may be, the aforesaid friendships involve equality; for
the friends get the same things from one another and wish the same
things for one another, or exchange one thing for another, e.g.
pleasure for utility; we have said, however, that they are both less
truly friendships and less permanent.
But it is from their likeness and their unlikeness to the same thing
that they are thought both to be and not to be friendships. It is by
their likeness to the friendship of virtue that they seem to be
friendships (for one of them involves pleasure and the other utility,
and these characteristics belong to the friendship of virtue as well);
while it is because the friendship of virtue is proof against slander
and permanent, while these quickly change (besides differing from the
former in many other respects), that they appear not to be
friendships; i.e. it is because of their unlikeness to the friendship
of virtue.
7
But there is another kind of friendship, viz. that which involves an
inequality between the parties, e.g. that of father to son and in
general of elder to younger, that of man to wife and in general that
of ruler to subject. And these friendships differ also from each
other; for it is not the same that exists between parents and children
and between rulers and subjects, nor is even that of father to son the
same as that of son to father, nor that of husband to wife the same as
that of wife to husband. For the virtue and the function of each of
these is different, and so are the reasons for which they love; the
love and the friendship are therefore different also. Each party,
then, neither gets the same from the other, nor ought to seek it; but
when children render to parents what they ought to render to those who
brought them into the world, and parents render what they should to
their children, the friendship of such persons will be abiding and
excellent. In all friendships implying inequality the love also should
be proportional, i.e. the better should be more loved than he loves,
and so should the more useful, and similarly in each of the other
cases; for when the love is in proportion to the merit of the parties,
then in a sense arises equality, which is certainly held to be
characteristic of friendship.
But equality does not seem to take the same form in acts of justice
and in friendship; for in acts of justice what is equal in the primary
sense is that which is in proportion to merit, while quantitative
equality is secondary, but in friendship quantitative equality is
primary and proportion to merit secondary. This becomes clear if there
is a great interval in respect of virtue or vice or wealth or anything
else between the parties; for then they are no longer friends, and do
not even expect to be so. And this is most manifest in the case of the
gods; for they surpass us most decisively in all good things. But it
is clear also in the case of kings; for with them, too, men who are
much their inferiors do not expect to be friends; nor do men of no
account expect to be friends with the best or wisest men. In such
cases it is not possible to define exactly up to what point friends
can remain friends; for much can be taken away and friendship remain,
but when one party is removed to a great distance, as God is, the
possibility of friendship ceases. This is in fact the origin of the
question whether friends really wish for their friends the greatest
goods, e.g. that of being gods; since in that case their friends will
no longer be friends to them, and therefore will not be good things
for them (for friends are good things). The answer is that if we were
right in saying that friend wishes good to friend for his sake, his
friend must remain the sort of being he is, whatever that may be;
therefore it is for him oily so long as he remains a man that he will
wish the greatest goods. But perhaps not all the greatest goods; for

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