Friendship is undoubtedly one of the most important elements in the
books of Aristotle's ethical principles. Aristotle takes the idea of
friendship to a serious degree. He categorizes them into three groups or
types of friendships. This report will attempt to define each type of
friendship as well as identify the role of friendship in a society.
Aristotle considers friendship to be a necessity to live. He
claims that no individual would chose to live without friends even if the
individual had all of the other good things in life. He also describes
friendship as a virtue and as just. Given the above statements on
friendship, it is safe to say that Aristotle felt that friendship is
something that every human must have in order to reach a peaceful state
of mind. It has all of the qualities of good as long as both parties of
a friendship are considered good. Therefore, the role of friendship in a
society is to promote goodness between all parties involved in it.
As previously mentioned, Aristotle has identified three different
types of friendships. The first is friendship based on utility. This is
a friendship in which both parties become involved with each other for
their own personal benefit. An example would be a working relationship
with an individual. These are people who do not spend much time
together, possibly because they do not like each other, and therefore
feel no need to associate with one another unless they are mutually
useful. They take pleasure from each other's company just for their own
sake. Aristotle uses the elderly and foreigners as examples of
friendships based on utility.
The second type of friendship is a friendship based on pleasure.
This friendship is made between two people that wish to gain pleasure
from one another. Aristotle uses the young as an example here.
Friendship between the young is grounded on pleasure because the lives of
the young are regulated by their feelings, and their main interest is in
their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. They are quick to
create and destroy friendships because their affection changes as fast as
the things that please them do. Aristotle felt that this sort of
pleasure changes rapidly. The young also have a tendency to fall in
love, thus creating an erotic friendship which is swayed by the feelings
and based on pleasure.
Finally, we have what is considered the by Aristotle as the perfect
friendship. This is called the friendship based on goodness. This kind
of friendship is between those that desire the good of their friends for
their friend's sake not their own. Each friend loves the other for what
he is, not for a particular quality. This type of friendship can last as
long as the friends remain good. The friendship just might last forever.
Aristotle considers it a permanent friendship because in it are all of
the attributes that friends ought to possess. This friendship differs
than the others mentioned because all the parties involved have each
other's qualities. There is no need to use the other for pleasure or
utility. They are in it for each other.
As you can see, Aristotle held friendship in high regard. He
considered it something to better the society as well as the individual.
His definitions of the types of friendships can make one relate to his or
her own friends. One can try to determine the type of friendships that
one may have or wish to have with his or her friends. It would certainly
be a challenge in today's day and age to find a friendship based on
goodness. Perhaps it can be achieved.