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Nicomachean Ethics   


live together not only for the sake of reproduction but also for the
various purposes of life; for from the start the functions are
divided, and those of man and woman are different; so they help each
other by throwing their peculiar gifts into the common stock. It is
for these reasons that both utility and pleasure seem to be found in
this kind of friendship. But this friendship may be based also on
virtue, if the parties are good; for each has its own virtue and they
will delight in the fact. And children seem to be a bond of union
(which is the reason why childless people part more easily); for
children are a good common to both and what is common holds them
together.
How man and wife and in general friend and friend ought mutually to
behave seems to be the same question as how it is just for them to
behave; for a man does not seem to have the same duties to a friend, a
stranger, a comrade, and a schoolfellow.
13
There are three kinds of friendship, as we said at the outset of our
inquiry, and in respect of each some are friends on an equality and
others by virtue of a superiority (for not only can equally good men
become friends but a better man can make friends with a worse, and
similarly in friendships of pleasure or utility the friends may be
equal or unequal in the benefits they confer). This being so, equals
must effect the required equalization on a basis of equality in love
and in all other respects, while unequals must render what is in
proportion to their superiority or inferiority. Complaints and
reproaches arise either only or chiefly in the friendship of utility,
and this is only to be expected. For those who are friends on the
ground of virtue are anxious to do well by each other (since that is a
mark of virtue and of friendship), and between men who are emulating
each other in this there cannot be complaints or quarrels; no one is
offended by a man who loves him and does well by him-if he is a person
of nice feeling he takes his revenge by doing well by the other. And
the man who excels the other in the services he renders will not
complain of his friend, since he gets what he aims at; for each man
desires what is good. Nor do complaints arise much even in friendships
of pleasure; for both get at the same time what they desire, if they
enjoy spending their time together; and even a man who complained of
another for not affording him pleasure would seem ridiculous, since it
is in his power not to spend his days with him.
But the friendship of utility is full of complaints; for as they use
each other for their own interests they always want to get the better
of the bargain, and think they have got less than they should, and
blame their partners because they do not get all they 'want and
deserve'; and those who do well by others cannot help them as much as
those whom they benefit want.
Now it seems that, as justice is of two kinds, one unwritten and the
other legal, one kind of friendship of utility is moral and the other
legal. And so complaints arise most of all when men do not dissolve
the relation in the spirit of the same type of friendship in which
they contracted it. The legal type is that which is on fixed terms;
its purely commercial variety is on the basis of immediate payment,
while the more liberal variety allows time but stipulates for a
definite quid pro quo. In this variety the debt is clear and not
ambiguous, but in the postponement it contains an element of
friendliness; and so some states do not allow suits arising out of
such agreements, but think men who have bargained on a basis of credit
ought to accept the consequences. The moral type is not on fixed
terms; it makes a gift, or does whatever it does, as to a friend; but
one expects to receive as much or more, as having not given but lent;
and if a man is worse off when the relation is dissolved than he was
when it was contracted he will complain. This happens because all or
most men, while they wish for what is noble, choose what is
advantageous; now it is noble to do well by another without a view to
repayment, but it is the receiving of benefits that is advantageous.

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