Can virtual friendship be genuine friendship as articulated by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics

Topics: Nicomachean Ethics, Friendship, Virtue Pages: 9 (1784 words) Published: March 6, 2015
Running head: FRIENDSHIP IN ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Can virtual friendship be genuine friendship as articulated by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics?
Aimee Muscat
University of Malta

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FRIENDSHIP IN ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS
Abstract
Aristotle defines friendship as a single soul dwelling in two bodies. With the introduction of online social networking, the way we form friendships has changed considerably over the past decade. The purpose of this paper is to give an insight, on the various views there are, on whether social media can provide us with a friendship based on virtue as described by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics.

Keywords: Aristotle, Friendship, Nicomachean Ethics

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FRIENDSHIP IN ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

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Can virtual friendship be genuine friendship as articulated by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics?
Twenty years ago, computers were mainly used for science, engineering, and business. Until relatively recently computers were not a common household object. It is clear that this increase in technology has had an effect on our everyday social interaction. This new technology is causing people to become socially isolated from their peers and is preventing them from forming genuine social relationships. However according to Katz and Aspden new technology, especially the internet, helps people connect with each other. It allows individuals to form groups of people, on the basis of common interests, rather than convenience. As stated by Barbro Fröding and Martin Peterson, social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are playing a major role in the social interactions of today’s world. Such websites/applications offer people the opportunity to reinvent themselves since, similar to electronic mail, provide more time to think before expressing oneself. Often, in face to face interactions, people do not have time to evaluate their words before speaking. However electronic mail or online wall posts can be edited and manipulated until they give off the right impression.

On the other hand this may also be a negative factor. Many people attempt to forge (form) relationships over the internet without a face to face interaction or at least a phone conversation. In this way, a person may fake his/her personality and it is impossible to know what a person is really like. Communication through electronic mail or messaging can often skew one’s impression of another person. Furthermore, without the help of bio-language and facial expressions, there is also the possibility that people misinterpret the message and thus misunderstand each other.

FRIENDSHIP IN ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

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As pointed out by Barbro Fröding and Martin Peterson, people who seek to build friendships or relationships online, face an added risk of not knowing who they are actually interacting with. The dangers associated with online dating and social networking are common knowledge today. However it seems that still, the benefits outweigh the negatives. Technology, particularly smartphones, are so convenient to use that such devices may potentially isolate an individual from people around him or her. Teenagers are especially affected by the increased availability of technology. Many teenagers no longer spend time talking to each other in person but instead build relationships online. As mentioned earlier, this may have both positive and negative impacts. This phenomenon is creating an ever increasing social disconnection amongst younger and older generations alike. This is preventing people from relating to one another on a personal basis.

According to Aristotle, friendship is an essential part of the good life. Indeed he also goes as far as to state that no one would choose to live if they were devoid of friendship. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle presents us with three different levels of friendship; friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good....


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