Aristotle's Three Motivations For Friendship Essay

879 words - 4 pages

Aristotle identifies three motivations for friendship: usefulness, pleasure and good. He postulates that when people seek friendship, they look for someone who is worthy of their affection based on one of those three motives. Whether his argument is true is debatable. Many might object to this simplification of such a complex topic. However, his theory holds weight within the context of Book VIII.
Friendships based on two people’s usefulness to each other are considered by Aristotle to be the lowest form of friendship (Aristotle 220). Such friendships are based on each receiving something from the other, whether it is material, such as money, or intangible, such as knowledge. They seek out those who seem good for them (i.e. people who can help further their own goals) (Aristotle 217). Because the friendships are based only on what they each receive from the other, the relationship ends when they are no longer mutually beneficial to one another (Aristotle 219). This type of friendship is readily seen today. For example, two business people partner to create a company together. One provides technical skills needed, while the other offers a large based of networking contacts. They form a friendship, believing that each can help further the growth (a.k.a. profit) of the company. However, should one no longer contribute to the health of the company, the partnership will end. Some might argue that this type of relationship is not a friendship at all, since the affection they hold for each other is in actuality for what that person provides.
The second type of friendship is based on pleasure. Aristotle claims that the “friendship of young people seems to be based on pleasure” (Aristotle 219). These relationships are ephemeral. What is found pleasurable changes with age and experience. Therefore, this type of friendship will also end as easily as those friendships that are based on usefulness (Aristotle 219). In this type of friendship, each person provides pleasure to the other. Aristotle claims these people do not feel affection for each other because of who they are but rather because of the pleasure they give one another (Aristotle 218). It is certainly possible to enjoy a person because of like interests. Two people could be friends because they both enjoy playing video games, for instance. If the only thing drawing the two people together is the fact that they enjoy playing games together, it is a friendship based on pleasure. Should one of those two go blind and no longer be able to play video games, or simply lose interest in playing games, the two would not remain friends, as their mutual pleasure in each other has changed. This type of friendship seems...

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