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Nicomachean Ethics   


more necessary in bad fortune, and so it is useful friends that one
wants in this case; but it is more noble in good fortune, and so we
also seek for good men as our friends, since it is more desirable to
confer benefits on these and to live with these. For the very presence
of friends is pleasant both in good fortune and also in bad, since
grief is lightened when friends sorrow with us. Hence one might ask
whether they share as it were our burden, or-without that
happening-their presence by its pleasantness, and the thought of their
grieving with us, make our pain less. Whether it is for these reasons
or for some other that our grief is lightened, is a question that may
be dismissed; at all events what we have described appears to take
place.
But their presence seems to contain a mixture of various factors. The
very seeing of one's friends is pleasant, especially if one is in
adversity, and becomes a safeguard against grief (for a friend tends
to comfort us both by the sight of him and by his words, if he is
tactful, since he knows our character and the things that please or
pain us); but to see him pained at our misfortunes is painful; for
every one shuns being a cause of pain to his friends. For this reason
people of a manly nature guard against making their friends grieve
with them, and, unless he be exceptionally insensible to pain, such a
man cannot stand the pain that ensues for his friends, and in general
does not admit fellow-mourners because he is not himself given to
mourning; but women and womanly men enjoy sympathisers in their grief,
and love them as friends and companions in sorrow. But in all things
one obviously ought to imitate the better type of person.
On the other hand, the presence of friends in our prosperity implies
both a pleasant passing of our time and the pleasant thought of their
pleasure at our own good fortune. For this cause it would seem that we
ought to summon our friends readily to share our good fortunes (for
the beneficent character is a noble one), but summon them to our bad
fortunes with hesitation; for we ought to give them as little a share
as possible in our evils whence the saying 'enough is my misfortune'.
We should summon friends to us most of all when they are likely by
suffering a few inconveniences to do us a great service.
Conversely, it is fitting to go unasked and readily to the aid of
those in adversity (for it is characteristic of a friend to render
services, and especially to those who are in need and have not
demanded them; such action is nobler and pleasanter for both persons);
but when our friends are prosperous we should join readily in their
activities (for they need friends for these too), but be tardy in
coming forward to be the objects of their kindness; for it is not
noble to be keen to receive benefits. Still, we must no doubt avoid
getting the reputation of kill-joys by repulsing them; for that
sometimes happens.
The presence of friends, then, seems desirable in all circumstances.
12
Does it not follow, then, that, as for lovers the sight of the beloved
is the thing they love most, and they prefer this sense to the others
because on it love depends most for its being and for its origin, so
for friends the most desirable thing is living together? For
friendship is a partnership, and as a man is to himself, so is he to
his friend; now in his own case the consciousness of his being is
desirable, and so therefore is the consciousness of his friend's
being, and the activity of this consciousness is produced when they
live together, so that it is natural that they aim at this. And
whatever existence means for each class of men, whatever it is for
whose sake they value life, in that they wish to occupy themselves
with their friends; and so some drink together, others dice together,
others join in athletic exercises and hunting, or in the study of
philosophy, each class spending their days together in whatever they
love most in life; for since they wish to live with their friends,
they do and share in those things which give them the sense of living
together. Thus the friendship of bad men turns out an evil thing (for

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