Aristotle’s Conception of Friendship, Essay Example
The human nature is created in such a way that no one can live independently. We all need friends to run our daily lives smoothly. As Aristotle puts that whether rich, poor, young old or of any social class, people need friends to keep their lives complete. The rich, powerful, and prosperous persons, for example, need friends to empower. These friends are the ones who go ahead and take part in contributing to the prosperity of their rich friends. The less fortunate persons in the society living in a life of poverty need friends to obtain refuge. The young and dependent lot needs elder friends for protection, and their fellow younger friends for companionship. The elderly need friends who are younger and energetic to take care of them while offering them with their basic needs. There is the lot of persons who have physical disabilities. They too need friends to help them in their normal lives. The mentally disabled not left out, as they also need persons with capabilities of understanding their actions. Everyone needs a friend.
Now, one would wonder who a friend is. People would call someone who is good, or useful or maybe pleasant a friend. A person possessing any of the three mentioned characteristics could be a friend at one point, but a definite friend possesses all the three characteristics is the true and close friend. A friend is one who will be there for a person when all the others are against him /her. Aristotle says that a genuine friend one who loves or likes another person for the other person’s sake and goodness. He describes friendship as a reciprocal good will, as long as each of the partners recognizes and presents the attitude of concern in the other person. Friends should bear good will to one another while wishing the best for each other. This should come naturally without their notice. This is because of the desire for goodness, pleasure, and a common advantage. Friendship is consistent of ethics. A good friend should have the moral ethics that focus on treating the other friend in the right manner, as if it were himself / herself. Another viable definition of friendship as given by Aristotle is that friendship bases on trust and companionship. With this, the parties enjoy considerable pleasure in these relationships. Perfect friendships produce pleasures and advantages not through force, but it comes naturally. This means that despite the circumstances, friends should be comfortable with each other, should wish each other well, and should feel the absence of the other party.
Aristotle describes other types of friendship based on pretence. Such friendships majorly base on advantage or pleasures called friendships because by nature, friendship involves two parties. If for example on does something to benefit the friend, not for the inner personality, but because of the personal benefits, then that is no friendship. In such statements, Aristotle says that relationships based on profit and pleasures are not friendships but rather loose friendships. Such friendships subjected to breakups. In such a case, one does not imply friendship towards the other person, rather a friend towards the profits and benefits that come out of the friendship.
According to Aristotle, a people recognize their friends upon realizing that the other person possesses good character, they have the similar characteristics as age mates, and they can spend time together. During this time, they can engage in constructive activities exercising their virtues. A combination of two people of such kind can form long-term friends, better called perfect friendship.
Aristotle has it that the number of people a person can have as friends are limited. If, for example, one lives in a densely populated area, the number of persons with whom one can develop perfect a relationship are very few, probably a handful. Every person has his/ her type of person to describe as a friend. One’s friend is another person’s enemy. Birds of the same feather flock together and finding such your type are not easy. Aristotle attempts to give an explanation behind this theory of limitedness in the number of friends. He argues out that a friend is nonetheless “another self”. It is formulating a relationship to some one else that aims at treating this other person as oneself. A virtuous person, for example, would love recognition as virtuous, thus the friend has to be virtuous as well. The perception of other persons regarding his friends need be the same. This brings in the difficulty in defining one’s friends.
There is another form of friendship, however, comprising of persons with a difference in their gaps in their moral development. The natural friendship that develops between a child and a parent is imperfect because of their gap in age. Another imperfect friendship forms between a husband and wife. Naturally, these are two persons with very different personalities and there is inequality between them. The relationship formed between such persons is merely based on the good character and the mutually benefit and pleasures obtained from their friendship. It is funny that Aristotle has it that the imperfect friendships and relationships formed from such friendships in practice rely on assumptions that are widely accepted. Such assumptions entirely rely on whatever that makes the relationship satisfying. These friendships are short-lived, and somewhat defective. The individuals involved have a tendency of having little trust in each other, they could quarrel frequently, and are always in the readiness of a breakup incase of a dispute.
Aristotle differentiates the perfect and imperfect friendship form of relationships. The perfect friends have a longer life because such persons spend their days together while sharing activities. On the other hand, the in the imperfect friendship relations, the closeness and constant interaction is unavailable, thus bringing in inequality in the friends’ moral development.
Aristotle has shown a very great strength in describing friendship from all angles. He even says that the absence of friends’ means losing special benefits not replaceable by the care of the larger community. A child without a parent as a friend poorly nurtured. Moreover, generally, no man is an island; we need one another in our daily lives. However, the point in which he describes the imperfect friendship brings in some doubts and misconceptions. The fact that he describes the relationship between a husband and wife as imperfect friendship, for example, brings in questions and some weakness. While his claim could hold some truth, one could say that it in commitment that speaks loud in the case of marriage, rather than the imperfect friendship relationship. A person who is less committed is more likely to be ready for a breakup as compared to a committed person.
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