What is Friendship?

AristotleFriendships as Aristotle saw them came in three varieties, friendships for pleasure, utility and virtue. He describes them in this manor. The cause of friendship between young people seems to be pleasure. For their lives are guided by their feelings, and they pursue above all what is pleasant for themselves and what is near at hand. But as they grow up, what they find pleasant changes too. Hence they are quick to become friends, and quick to stop; pleasure friendships are a thing of youth. Friendships based on utility seem to arise especially among older people, since at that age they pursue what is advantageous, not what is pleasant, and also among those int heir prime or youth who pursue what is expedient. Nor do such people live together very much. For sometimes they do not even find each other pleasant. Hence they have no further need to meet this way if they are not advantageous to each other. Complete friendship is friendship of good people similar in virtue; for they wish goods in the same way for each other in so far as they are good, and they are good in themselves. Now those who wish goods to the friend for the friend’s sake are friends most of all; for they have this attitude because of the friend himself, not coincidentally. Hence these people’s friendship last as long as they are good and virtue is enduring.

Aristotle commented that friendships based on virtue are rare in the world. For people need time to grow accustomed to each other; for, as the proverb says, they cannot know each other before they have shared the traditional peck of salt. The main thing to think about when thinking of friendship is; are you seeking pleasure, utility, or virtue? For we need all three in our lives at one time or another for growth to occur.

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