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Furthermore, Friendship seems to be the bond of Social Communities, and legislators seem to be more anxious to secure it than Justice even. I mean, Unanimity is somewhat like to Friendship, and this they certainly aim at and specially drive out faction as being inimical.

Again, where people are in Friendship Justice is not required; but, on the other hand, though they are just they need Friendship in addition, and that principle which is most truly just is thought to partake of the nature of Friendship.

Lastly, not only is it a thing necessary but honourable likewise: since we praise those who are fond of friends, and the having numerous friends is thought a matter of credit to a man; some go so far as to hold, that “good man” and “friend” are terms synonymous.

Yet the disputed points respecting it are not few: some men lay down that it is a kind of resemblance, and that men who are like one another are friends: whence come the common sayings, “Like will to like,” “Birds of a feather,” and so on. Others, on the contrary, say, that all such come under the maxim, “Two of a trade never agree.”

1155b] Again, some men push their inquiries on these points higher and reason physically: as Euripides, who says,

  “The earth by drought consumed doth love the rain,
  And the great heaven, overcharged with rain,
  Doth love to fall in showers upon the earth.”

Heraclitus, again, maintains, that “contrariety is expedient, and that the best agreement arises from things differing, and that all things come into being in the way of the principle of antagonism.”

Empedocles, among others, in direct opposition to these, affirms, that “like aims at like.”

These physical questions we will take leave to omit, inasmuch as they are foreign to the present inquiry; and we will examine such as are proper to man and concern moral characters and feelings: as, for instance, “Does Friendship arise among all without distinction, or is it impossible for bad men to be friends?” and, “Is there but one species of Friendship, or several?” for they who ground the opinion that there is but one on the fact that Friendship admits of degrees hold that upon insufficient proof; because things which are different in species admit likewise of degrees (on this point we have spoken before).


Our view will soon be cleared on these points when we have ascertained what is properly the object-matter of Friendship: for it is thought that not everything indiscriminately, but some peculiar matter alone, is the object of this affection; that is to say, what is good, or pleasurable, or useful. Now it would seem that that is useful through which accrues any good or pleasure, and so the objects of Friendship, as absolute Ends, are the good and the pleasurable.

A question here arises; whether it is good absolutely or that which is good to the individuals, for which men feel Friendship (these two being sometimes distinct): and similarly in respect of the pleasurable. It seems then that each individual feels it towards that which is good to himself, and that abstractedly it is the real good which is the object of Friendship, and to each individual that which is good to each. It comes then to this; that each individual feels Friendship not for what is but for that which conveys to his mind the impression of being good to himself. But this will make no real difference, because that which is truly the object of Friendship will also convey this impression to the mind.

There are then three causes from which men feel Friendship: but the term is not applied to the case of fondness for things inanimate because there is no requital of the affection nor desire for the good of those objects: it certainly savours of the ridiculous to say that a man fond of wine wishes well to it: the only sense in which it is true being that he wishes it to be kept safe and sound for his own use and benefit. But to the friend they say one should wish all good for his sake. And when men do thus wish good to another (he not *[Sidenote: 1156a] reciprocating the feeling), people call them Kindly; because Friendship they describe as being “Kindliness between persons who reciprocate it.” But must they not add that the feeling must be mutually known? for many men are kindly disposed towards those whom they have never seen but whom they conceive to be amiable or useful: and this notion amounts to the same thing as a real feeling between them.

Well, these are plainly Kindly-disposed towards one another: but how can one call them friends while their mutual feelings are unknown to one another? to complete the idea of Friendship, then, it is requisite that they have kindly feelings towards one another, and wish one another good from one of the aforementioned causes, and that these kindly feelings should be mutually known.


As the motives to Friendship differ in kind so do the respective feelings and Friendships. The species then of Friendship are three, in number equal to the objects of it, since in the line of each there may be “mutual affection mutually known.”

Now they who have Friendship for one another desire one another’s good according to the motive of their Friendship; accordingly they whose motive is utility have no Friendship for one another really, but only in so far as some good arises to them from one another.

And they whose motive is pleasure are in like case: I mean, they have Friendship for men of easy pleasantry, not because they are of a given character but because they are pleasant to themselves. So then they whose motive to Friendship is utility love their friends for what is good to themselves; they whose motive is pleasure do so for what is pleasurable to themselves; that is to say, not in so far as the friend beloved is but in so far as he is useful or pleasurable. These Friendships then are a matter of result: since the object is not beloved in that he is the man he is but in that he furnishes advantage or pleasure as the case may be. Such Friendships are of course very liable to dissolution if the parties do not continue alike: I mean, that the others cease to have any Friendship for them when they are no longer pleasurable or useful. Now it is the nature of utility not to be permanent but constantly varying: so, of course, when the motive which made them friends is vanished, the Friendship likewise dissolves; since it existed only relatively to those circumstances.

Friendship of this kind is thought to exist principally among the old (because men at that time of life pursue not what is pleasurable but what is profitable); and in such, of men in their prime and of the young, as are given to the pursuit of profit. They that are such have no intimate intercourse with one another; for sometimes they are not even pleasurable to one another; nor, in fact, do they desire such intercourse unless their friends are profitable to them, because they are pleasurable only in so far as they have hopes of advantage. With these Friendships is commonly ranked that of hospitality.

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