Aristotle S Concept On Virtue Essay, Research Paper
(Friendship) is some sort of excellence or virtue, and it is, moreover, most indispensable for life(Aristotle, 214).
In his writing, Aristotle claims that without friendship it is merely impossible for one to live a complete and virtuous life. In this paper I will compare the virtues of the good person to those of the bad person. I will also explain the difference between the three kinds of friendships and how what kind of friendship one has depends on the kind of virtues you have. Finally I will attempt to explain self-love, because in order for us to be good friends and to have good friends Aristotle says that we must first be good friends with ourselves. I will prove to you that it is indeed impossible to live a happy life without a good friendship.
In order to understand friendship, one must first understand the virtue of oneself. Aristotle puts virtue in a hierarchical form starting from the top and working down, the hierarchy is as follows:
1. Super virtuous (Megalospsychia)
At the top of the hierarchy is the super virtuous person or the Megalospsychia. This person is at the top of the hierarchy because his practical reason is much stronger than his desire. His soul s desire and his practical reason are not in conflict. The middle of the hierarchy, the strong-willed and weak-willed souls, is the area in which one s soul lives in constant conflict between desire and reason. The reason in the strong-willed person will usually win over the desire. Whereas in the weak-willed soul, the desire of the soul will overcome the soul s reason. As you get further down the hierarchy, past the weak-willed the appetite for desire becomes much stronger than the practical reason. In other words, almost everything one does is done for the sole purpose of selfish pleasure.
In order for a man to obtain a good friendship, he must be at least virtuous on the hierarchy of virtue. For if his desire is greater than his practical reason, he finds himself in relationships that are based purely on pleasure and ones own personal benefits.
The next topic that I will discuss is the three types of friendships. Aristotle claims that these three types are: useful friendships, pleasure friendships, and good friendships. Useful friendships and pleasure friendships both depend not on a friends love for the other, but on what he gains out of being his friend. Unlike useful and pleasure friendships, good friendships are based on one s love for their friend.
Useful friendships are most commonly found among old people. It is within this age group that one pursues a friendship from which he will be benefited. These relationships are short-lived. For, once this person feels his friend is no longer a benefit he will realize the relationship is no longer beneficial to him.
Unlike useful friendships, pleasure friendships are usually found among young people. This is because young people s lives are guided by emotion and most often they live accordingly to what brings them instant pleasure. Likewise, these relationships are also short lived, because the friend does not bring this person pleasure anymore.
The good friendship is a perfect friendship that forms between two people who are alike in virtue. Aristotle says that those whom have good friendships are true to their friend and their attitudes are determined not by incidental considerations, but by the actual goodness of one s friend. Hence this relationship will last for a long time or for as long as their goodness or virtue lasts.
He also says that in order to get virtuous or stay virtuous for that matter, one must have a friend of the same virtues. What this does is give the person a chance to see what they look like from the outside looking in. We are better able to observe our neighbors than ourselves, and their actions better than our own. I contemplated this saying a long time because I didn t understand how seeing somebody else was actually helping me become a better person. My philosophy has always been, experience yourself then learn from your mistakes and don t make them again. I agree with Aristotle in the fact that he thinks that we can learn from observing others actions, however I disagree that we learn more than we do when contemplating our own decisions.
The last but probably the most important aspect of friendship, is self-love. Aristotle s idea of self-love is that in order for one to have a good friendship with someone else, he must first love himself. This poses something of a problem. Should the person love himself more than he loves others? One might ask, wouldn t that be sort of selfish or egotistical?
Aristotle then explains that an egoist has two forms, the noble egoist, otherwise known as the high-minded, and the selfish egoist. The difference between these two are that the noble one thinks that he deserves great things and he truly does, while the selfish one thinks he deserves more than what he really does. Therefore, it can be said that it is good for a good man to be a self-lover, for by doing noble things, he is not only benefiting himself, but also his fellow man. But a selfish man should not love himself, for it will only harm himself and his neighbors.
Aristotle states, We may conclude that a friend is something desirable. But what is desirable for a happy man he must have or else he will be deficient in that respect (and consequently, not supremely happy)(Aristotle, 267). Here he says that friends are a part of our own self and that even if everything else in one s life is perfectly virtuous, but he does not have a good friend, then it is impossible for him to be truly happy.