Aristotle, one of the renowned thinkers who made significantly huge contribution to the science field, believed in the cultivation of virtue as the ultimate determinant of happiness in human existence. He further illustrated that one of the core virtues to achieve happiness is friendship. While he appreciated the fact that friendships are of different kinds, he emphasized that only friendship between good men is perfect or complete.
In the friendship between virtuous men, Aristotle says that the driving force lies in wanting to achieve that which is beneficial to both partners, as opposed to benefiting oneself or gaining materially. This is the friendship he says is based on virtue. To achieve this kind of friendship, he says, requires the friends involved to have similarities the virtues they stand for. Aristotle however notes that this friendship between good men is not as easy to come by owing to the slim possibilities of having virtuous men who wish for mutually honest benefits for each other, as well as the heavy amount of effort required to maintain these complete friendships. The complexity of achieving this virtuous form of friendship is particularly complicated by the fact that these men must stand for similar virtues, the friendship takes a lot of time to achieve, trust is most important in forming these relationships, a lot of time is taken in building trust, and the unwavering refusal of the friends to be faltered by misleading information about the other person. These factors therefore limit one from having many good friends since there is not enough time to allow for the same.
Friendship between good men stands out as perfect as compared to other friendships based on ‘utility’ and ‘pleasure’. The difference in these two defective friendships from the ‘perfect/virtuous’ friendship is seen in the force drives one being attracted to the other. Aristotle clearly defines the differences by noting that while friendship of the good is based on both partners wishing to have each one benefit equally, that based on utility is based the material gain that the other person offers, and that based on pleasure is driven desires of the body. The other two friendships therefore can broadly be said to represent the concept that a person will go for what seems to be beneficial for himself. Friendships of utility and pleasure are formed very fast and are short lived. Friendship of pleasure is best illustrated by the friendship seen in young people. Young people follow what is pleasant to them at the moment. In the process of growing up however, they come across other people who they find more pleasurable and therefore are quick to shift camps. Friendship of utility, which is based on how useful the other person is, can best be seen in older people who seek people who are of advantage to them. However once the source of this usefulness is gone, the friendship quickly fades.
Aristotle in addition noted that as much as the other two forms of defective friendship based on ‘utility’ and ‘pleasure’ seem in genuine, it should be noted that they are also based on goodwill just like the friendship between good men. The difference is the fact that this goodwill exists towards that which attracts them to the other person and therefore is short lived as opposed to the form of goodwill in the friendship between good men which lasts a long time.
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