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Nicomachean Ethics   


doings that affect the family; and at funerals also they think that
kinsfolk, before all others, should meet, for the same reason. And it
would be thought that in the matter of food we should help our parents
before all others, since we owe our own nourishment to them, and it is
more honourable to help in this respect the authors of our being even
before ourselves; and honour too one should give to one's parents as
one does to the gods, but not any and every honour; for that matter
one should not give the same honour to one's father and one's mother,
nor again should one give them the honour due to a philosopher or to a
general, but the honour due to a father, or again to a mother. To all
older persons, too, one should give honour appropriate to their age,
by rising to receive them and finding seats for them and so on; while
to comrades and brothers one should allow freedom of speech and common
use of all things. To kinsmen, too, and fellow-tribesmen and
fellow-citizens and to every other class one should always try to
assign what is appropriate, and to compare the claims of each class
with respect to nearness of relation and to virtue or usefulness. The
comparison is easier when the persons belong to the same class, and
more laborious when they are different. Yet we must not on that
account shrink from the task, but decide the question as best we can.
3
Another question that arises is whether friendships should or should
not be broken off when the other party does not remain the same.
Perhaps we may say that there is nothing strange in breaking off a
friendship based on utility or pleasure, when our friends no longer
have these attributes. For it was of these attributes that we were the
friends; and when these have failed it is reasonable to love no
longer. But one might complain of another if, when he loved us for our
usefulness or pleasantness, he pretended to love us for our character.
For, as we said at the outset, most differences arise between friends
when they are not friends in the spirit in which they think they are.
So when a man has deceived himself and has thought he was being loved
for his character, when the other person was doing nothing of the
kind, he must blame himself; when he has been deceived by the
pretences of the other person, it is just that he should complain
against his deceiver; he will complain with more justice than one does
against people who counterfeit the currency, inasmuch as the
wrongdoing is concerned with something more valuable.
But if one accepts another man as good, and he turns out badly and is
seen to do so, must one still love him? Surely it is impossible, since
not everything can be loved, but only what is good. What is evil
neither can nor should be loved; for it is not one's duty to be a
lover of evil, nor to become like what is bad; and we have said that
like is dear like. Must the friendship, then, be forthwith broken off?
Or is this not so in all cases, but only when one's friends are
incurable in their wickedness? If they are capable of being reformed
one should rather come to the assistance of their character or their
property, inasmuch as this is better and more characteristic of
friendship. But a man who breaks off such a friendship would seem to
be doing nothing strange; for it was not to a man of this sort that he
was a friend; when his friend has changed, therefore, and he is unable
to save him, he gives him up.
But if one friend remained the same while the other became better and
far outstripped him in virtue, should the latter treat the former as a
friend? Surely he cannot. When the interval is great this becomes most
plain, e.g. in the case of childish friendships; if one friend
remained a child in intellect while the other became a fully developed
man, how could they be friends when they neither approved of the same
things nor delighted in and were pained by the same things? For not
even with regard to each other will their tastes agree, and without
this (as we saw) they cannot be friends; for they cannot live
together. But we have discussed these matters.
Should he, then, behave no otherwise towards him than he would if he
had never been his friend? Surely he should keep a remembrance of

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