Friendship is one of the most important elements in the books of Aristotle’s ethical principles. Aristotle takes the idea of friendship to a serious degree by saying: “For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods” (1155a5). It is really an understatement saying that Aristotle cares about friendship. He categorizes into three different types of friendships. The first friendship is based on utility, the second pleasure, and the third is the virtuous friendship. After reading these friendships over for the first time, I never realized this, but it is really how friendship is.
From my own personal experiences, some of my past friendships have actually been like this. This is something that is not really thought of and just taken for granted. Aristotle considers friendship to be one of the most important parts of our lives. He claims that no individual would chose to live without friends even if the individual had all of the other good things in life. Friends are needed to stand by you in the best and worst of times. He also describes friendship as a virtue and as just.
Aristotle felt that friendship is something that every human must have in order to reach a peaceful state of mind. It has all of the qualities of good as long as both parties of a friendship are considered good. Therefore, the role of friendship in a society is to promote goodness between all parties involved in it. The first is friendship based on utility. This is a friendship in which both parties become involved with each other for their own personal benefit. An example of this would be when I first got my license and my friends used me for my car.
Eventually when they finally got their license, they never spoke to me again and did not need me. These are people who do not spend much time together, possibly because they do not like each other, and therefore feel no need to associate with one another unless they are mutually useful. They take pleasure from each other’s company just for their own sake. Aristotle uses the elderly as an example of friendships based on utility. In a friendship based on utility, both persons are being used for something nice that they have. The second type of friendship is a friendship based on pleasure.
This friendship is made between two people that wish to gain satisfaction from one another. Aristotle uses the young as an example here because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings. Most high school kids only do what’s best for their own personal gain. For example, back when I was in high school, a lot of relationships were very short lived and did not last. When you’re that young, rarely does anyone know who they want to spend the rest of their life with. Finally there is the “perfect friendship”. This friendship is built on “excellence and virtue”.
The perfect friendship is long lasting and tough to obtain because these types of people are hard to come by and it takes a lot of work to have a complete virtuous friendship. Relating back to my own life, the “perfect friendship” would be the friendships which I have with my best friends. These friends are one of a kind and very special to me. Aristotle notes that there cannot be a large amount of friends in a virtuous friendship because the amount of time and care that a virtuous friendship needs limits the amount of time one can spend with other friends.
It is through this type of friendship that we see why Aristotle values friendship so much and why it is so important to him. Aristotle argues that the only thing that should be valued higher than honour and justice is love, which is one of the main factors of virtuous friendship. Aristotle believes that it is through friendship that cities are successful and grow. Communities are built around friendships and it is something that is needed to have a happy life.