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Nicomachean Ethics   


it is for himself most of all that each man wishes what is good.
8
Most people seem, owing to ambition, to wish to be loved rather than
to love; which is why most men love flattery; for the flatterer is a
friend in an inferior position, or pretends to be such and to love
more than he is loved; and being loved seems to be akin to being
honoured, and this is what most people aim at. But it seems to be not
for its own sake that people choose honour, but incidentally. For most
people enjoy being honoured by those in positions of authority because
of their hopes (for they think that if they want anything they will
get it from them; and therefore they delight in honour as a token of
favour to come); while those who desire honour from good men, and men
who know, are aiming at confirming their own opinion of themselves;
they delight in honour, therefore, because they believe in their own
goodness on the strength of the judgement of those who speak about
them. In being loved, on the other hand, people delight for its own
sake; whence it would seem to be better than being honoured, and
friendship to be desirable in itself. But it seems to lie in loving
rather than in being loved, as is indicated by the delight mothers
take in loving; for some mothers hand over their children to be
brought up, and so long as they know their fate they love them and do
not seek to be loved in return (if they cannot have both), but seem to
be satisfied if they see them prospering; and they themselves love
their children even if these owing to their ignorance give them
nothing of a mother's due. Now since friendship depends more on
loving, and it is those who love their friends that are praised,
loving seems to be the characteristic virtue of friends, so that it is
only those in whom this is found in due measure that are lasting
friends, and only their friendship that endures.
It is in this way more than any other that even unequals can be
friends; they can be equalized. Now equality and likeness are
friendship, and especially the likeness of those who are like in
virtue; for being steadfast in themselves they hold fast to each
other, and neither ask nor give base services, but (one may say) even
prevent them; for it is characteristic of good men neither to go wrong
themselves nor to let their friends do so. But wicked men have no
steadfastness (for they do not remain even like to themselves), but
become friends for a short time because they delight in each other's
wickedness. Friends who are useful or pleasant last longer; i.e. as
long as they provide each other with enjoyments or advantages.
Friendship for utility's sake seems to be that which most easily
exists between contraries, e.g. between poor and rich, between
ignorant and learned; for what a man actually lacks he aims at, and
one gives something else in return. But under this head, too, might
bring lover and beloved, beautiful and ugly. This is why lovers
sometimes seem ridiculous, when they demand to be loved as they love;
if they are equally lovable their claim can perhaps be justified, but
when they have nothing lovable about them it is ridiculous. Perhaps,
however, contrary does not even aim at contrary by its own nature, but
only incidentally, the desire being for what is intermediate; for that
is what is good, e.g. it is good for the dry not to become wet but to
come to the intermediate state, and similarly with the hot and in all
other cases. These subjects we may dismiss; for they are indeed
somewhat foreign to our inquiry.
9
Friendship and justice seem, as we have said at the outset of our
discussion, to be concerned with the same objects and exhibited
between the same persons. For in every community there is thought to
be some form of justice, and friendship too; at least men address as
friends their fellow-voyagers and fellowsoldiers, and so too those
associated with them in any other kind of community. And the extent of
their association is the extent of their friendship, as it is the
extent to which justice exists between them. And the proverb 'what
friends have is common property' expresses the truth; for friendship

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