People for the most part, are social beings who fill their lives with other people and name them friends. More often than not, we are always trying (or willing) to add new people to our group of friends. Books VIII and IX of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics focus exclusively on the issue of friendship. Aristotle understood the importance of friendship. Today friendship is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "one joined to another in intimacy and mutual benevolence independently of sexual or family love". Aristotle's account of friendship is more complex than this simple, modern definition. This essay will outline Aristotle's account of friendship as presented in Books VIII and IX of the Nicomachean Ethics.
Aristotle places much importance on friendship. This is clearly stated throughout Books IIIV and IX, beginning with the opening where he claims, "For friendship is a virtue, or involves virtue; and also it is one of the most indispensable requirements of life. For no one would choose to live without friends, but possessing all other good things" (Book VIII 451). Happiness, according to Aristotle, happiness is not a private matter but a public event, so those we share our happiness with are of much meaning and worth. Aristotle not only discusses friendship, but every type of relationship. He also delves into family relationships. Aristotle claims friends are not bonded together through necessity, family, or for beneficial reasons, but through mutual respect and shared virtue. In Aristotle's definition of friendship, there are three requirements for a two people to be friends. The first requirement is that the two people must feel goodwill toward one another, or want the best for each other. The second is that they must be aware of and acknowledge each other's good will. The third is that the reason for their goodwill must be one of these loveable qualities (Book VIII 457). Aristotle goes on to claim that friendship is based on the act of...
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