Discuss Aristotle’s Friendship (Philia)

Topics: Friendship, Love, Virtue Pages: 3 (747 words) Published: October 13, 2012
Discuss Aristotle’s Friendship (Philia)

Philia, an ancient Greek word that means friendship, is one of the main concerns in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. There exist three types of friendship distinguished by Aristotle and the following essay will discuss this first. Then attention will be focused on complete friendship, the very one that Aristotle appreciates most, as well as the difference between friendship, self-love and selfishness.

According to Aristotle, “friendship has three species, corresponding to three objects of love”. (In Dialogue with Humanity, 2011, The Nicomachean Ethics section, para. 1156a7). The first type of friendship is friendship based on utility. In this situation, people, usually the elder or the prime, become friends just because they can utilize each other’s power to gain what they desire, e.g., money and support. The second type of friendship occurs among those who pursue pleasure for themselves, for instance, the youth. Apparently, these two species of friendship can hardly last for a long period because if their friend is no longer useful or pleasant to them, “the cause of their being friends is removed” (1156a23) and therefore, their friendship is dissolved.

Unlike the first two types, the last type of friendship, complete friendship, however, is enduring. It is “the friendship of good people similar in virtue.”(1156b7) In this case, good people become friends not because of utility or pleasure, but because of the virtue of themselves. Since this pursue of virtue is mutual and a friend is considered “another himself”(1170b7), “they wish goods to each other for each other’s own sake”(1156b9-10).

There are several main features of complete friendship. Firstly, like what have been mentioned above, complete friendship is enduring. As long as friends are good, their friendship lasts. Secondly, since true friends trust each other and help their friends protect their reputation, complete friendship is “immune to...
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