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Nicomachean Ethics   


their former intimacy, and as we think we ought to oblige friends
rather than strangers, so to those who have been our friends we ought
to make some allowance for our former friendship, when the breach has
not been due to excess of wickedness.
4
Friendly relations with one's neighbours, and the marks by which
friendships are defined, seem to have proceeded from a man's relations
to himself. For (1) we define a friend as one who wishes and does what
is good, or seems so, for the sake of his friend, or (2) as one who
wishes his friend to exist and live, for his sake; which mothers do to
their children, and friends do who have come into conflict. And (3)
others define him as one who lives with and (4) has the same tastes as
another, or (5) one who grieves and rejoices with his friend; and this
too is found in mothers most of all. It is by some one of these
characterstics that friendship too is defined.
Now each of these is true of the good man's relation to himself (and
of all other men in so far as they think themselves good; virtue and
the good man seem, as has been said, to be the measure of every class
of things). For his opinions are harmonious, and he desires the same
things with all his soul; and therefore he wishes for himself what is
good and what seems so, and does it (for it is characteristic of the
good man to work out the good), and does so for his own sake (for he
does it for the sake of the intellectual element in him, which is
thought to be the man himself); and he wishes himself to live and be
preserved, and especially the element by virtue of which he thinks.
For existence is good to the virtuous man, and each man wishes himself
what is good, while no one chooses to possess the whole world if he
has first to become some one else (for that matter, even now God
possesses the good); he wishes for this only on condition of being
whatever he is; and the element that thinks would seem to be the
individual man, or to be so more than any other element in him. And
such a man wishes to live with himself; for he does so with pleasure,
since the memories of his past acts are delightful and his hopes for
the future are good, and therefore pleasant. His mind is well stored
too with subjects of contemplation. And he grieves and rejoices, more
than any other, with himself; for the same thing is always painful,
and the same thing always pleasant, and not one thing at one time and
another at another; he has, so to speak, nothing to repent of.
Therefore, since each of these characteristics belongs to the good man
in relation to himself, and he is related to his friend as to himself
(for his friend is another self), friendship too is thought to be one
of these attributes, and those who have these attributes to be
friends. Whether there is or is not friendship between a man and
himself is a question we may dismiss for the present; there would seem
to be friendship in so far as he is two or more, to judge from the
afore-mentioned attributes of friendship, and from the fact that the
extreme of friendship is likened to one's love for oneself.
But the attributes named seem to belong even to the majority of men,
poor creatures though they may be. Are we to say then that in so far
as they are satisfied with themselves and think they are good, they
share in these attributes? Certainly no one who is thoroughly bad and
impious has these attributes, or even seems to do so. They hardly
belong even to inferior people; for they are at variance with
themselves, and have appetites for some things and rational desires
for others. This is true, for instance, of incontinent people; for
they choose, instead of the things they themselves think good, things
that are pleasant but hurtful; while others again, through cowardice
and laziness, shrink from doing what they think best for themselves.
And those who have done many terrible deeds and are hated for their
wickedness even shrink from life and destroy themselves. And wicked
men seek for people with whom to spend their days, and shun
themselves; for they remember many a grevious deed, and anticipate
others like them, when they are by themselves, but when they are with
others they forget. And having nothing lovable in them they have no

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