Aristotle's Virtuous Relationship

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In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle says that “the excellent person is related to [their] friend in the same way as he is related to [themselves], since a friend is another [themselves]” (1170b). It must initially be established that Aristotle thinks only virtuous people can have true friendship because “bad people find no enjoyment in one another if they get no benefit” (1157a). A truly excellent friendship between excellent people is “immune to slander” because both friends know each other deeply and fully trust one another. Healthy friendships among virtuous people are also balanced: both individuals understand each other’s needs. The relationship is harmonious because the happiness of one is inextricably linked to the other. Aristotle…show more content…
He later describes several other possible characterizations of friends and says a friend is “one who spends time with [their] friend, and makes the same choices; or one who shares [their] friend’s distress and enjoyment” (1166a). Aristotle believes that “each of these features is found in the decent person’s relation to [themselves], and it is found in other people, insofar as they suppose they are decent” (1166a). Within these parameters, a virtuous person treats themselves as a friend. This individual desires “goods and apparent goods to [themselves], and achieves them in [their] actions, since it is proper to the good person to reach the good by [their] efforts” (1166a). They not only want the good, but they also realize that they must work to find this good. Similarly, a good friend goes out of their way to bring good things to their friend; simple words or thoughts do not make a good friend. An individual does good things for themselves or equivalently “for the sake of [their] thinking part” (1166a). This means that an excellent person does what is healthy or beneficial because of internal factors, not superficial or external ones. A good friendship has these attributes; a friend wishes well for their friend because of their own…show more content…
A person knows most of all what pleases and distresses them. Of course, they also experience these things on the personal level; only an individual directly feels what happens to them. However, it cannot be said that all humans are in concord with themselves in this respect. Non-virtuous or “base” people may “appear to have these features,” but they “are at odds with themselves, and have an appetite for one thing and a wish for another” (1166b). They may give into their harmful desires and choose to do actions that cause them harm. The virtuous person, on the contrary, is of one mind. Base people may experience distresses and pleasures, yet they cannot distinguish between self-destructive actions and good actions. On the other hand, the virtuous person understands the deeper reasons why something is pleasurable or distressful. Hence, it can be said that only the virtuous person truly “shares distresses and pleasures” with themselves. Returning to the scope of interpersonal relationships, it is clear that the good person empathizes with their closest friends more than any other individual. Friends most certainly “share distresses and
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