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Friendship And Love: Aristotle's View Vs Plato's

1926 words - 8 pages

Throughout the history of art, literature, and theater, the themes of friendship and love have been the most prevalent. In numerous compositions, including Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Plato's The Symposium, these themes are recurrent as the main topics of discussion. Aristotle believes friendship to be a high and noble aim for mankind. Analogously, Plato considers love a necessity of life that enables "human beings to acquire courage and happiness, in both life and death." Both philosophers believe that these two themes lead a person to eudaimonia, or happiness. Due to the similarity of the two themes, friendship and love are closely interwoven, thereby allowing the reader to intermingle the two themes.In several chapters of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle develops an original definition for "friendship." According to Aristotle, "We ought to wish for the good of our friend for the friend's sake...If the good will is on a reciprocal basis, it is friendship." This companionship can therefore be defined as the relationship between people who care about the general well being of each other. This mutual concern for the good of the other person is the glue that holds together their relationship. "We conclude, therefore, that to be friends men must have good will for one another, must each wish for the good of the other...and must each be aware of one another's good will." As a result, people will only wish the best for a friend, for the friend's own sake. This behavior of a true friend demonstrates genuine, caring feelings for the other person. As stated by Aristotle, "there are three kinds of friendship, corresponding in number to the objects worthy of affection [the good, the pleasant, and the useful]...when the useful is the basis of affection, men love because of the good they get our of it [and the same goes for when pleasure is the basis of friendship]. In other words, the friend is loved not because he is a friend, but because he is useful or pleasant." Aristotle implies that when friendships are based on pleasure or utility, they are easily dissolved as soon as one person ceases to be pleasant or useful to the other. When the sole purpose of the friend, whether for utility or for pleasure, is no longer relevant, his friendship is no longer desired. Therefore, the "perfect friendship" is the kind that is based on goodness. In this type of friendship, one partner's feelings for the other are born of his good moral state. As a result, these friendships tend to be the strongest and most lasting. Accordingly, Aristotle declares "the highest form of friendship is that between good men."As indicated by Aristotle, friendship is essential to life in order for any person to succeed in gaining happiness. "No one would choose to live without friends, even if he had all other goods." What is the point in having all the riches in the world, if you are unable to share it with others? To be truly content, a person must have good friends. In chapter one of...

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