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Personal Conditions of Friendship According to Aristotle


In “Nicomachean Ethics” Aristotle gives much attention to the investigation of the phenomenon of friendship, which is one of the crucial determinants in people’s life. The philosopher tries to define this notion grounding on his general ethical conception. Aristotle analyses friendship in its connection to the good and personal motivations of the person, who wants to communicate with others as with friends, as discussed in this philosophy research paper.

Aristotle believes that friendly relationships depend on the attitude towards oneself and the harmonious combination of tree parts of human’s soul: vegetative, appetitive, and contemplative. The last one is solely people’s characteristic due to the rationality and reasoning, which are the fundamental person’s features. It enables morality that underlies the self-appraisal and the communication with others in a right way according to the understanding of the good and measures of the morality.


Thus, according to the philosopher, we should strain every nerve to avoid wickedness and should endeavor to be virtuous. Only under this condition the friendship is possible (Aristotle 152). The main point here is that friendship is the reflection of the attitude towards oneself and moral consciousness of a person. When an individual possesses evil intentions, he/she is not able to respect others in communication because such people do not feel comfortable with themselves. They try to avoid their inner torments, and imperfect friendship is the way to forget the vices and disgraceful behavior. Having no respect for themselves, they are not able to tolerate others.

Being vicious, a person does not strive for something pleasant for anyone. Therefore, he/she is not able to wish good to the people around. According to Aristotle, if a person wants to build a friendship, he/she must obey the morality and embody the moral principles in practical life. Without virtuous intentions, there would be nothing pleasant in the relationships between people.

In my opinion, Aristotle’s conception corresponds with the real life. Without any doubt, it is impossible to consider personal morality and intersubjective sphere of communication separately. That is why one’s history, intentions, and world-outlook influence his/her attitude towards other people. If an individual takes an aggressive position towards the humanity, he/she is not able to have real friends due to the disrespect to the whole humanity in a person of a friend. This idea corresponds with Kant’s concept of the moral imperative, which states that a person always has to think about his/her intention to act as if it was a universal rule (Kant). In the actions of an individual, it is necessary to consider the consequences because everyone is a member of a society. Thus, friendship as a motivation is possible only then, when the person respects the dignity of other people.

The analyzed passage of Aristotle embodies the general principle of his ethical philosophy: the necessity to choose the middle way, which reflects human’s prudence. Thus, morality means the harmonious development of the rational part of individual’s soul, which makes people understand the being as an inseparable part of the social state. Intersubjective world makes individuals respect the others and thus, develop their personalities. That is the condition of the happiness, which is the goal of human’s life, according to Aristotle.

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To sum up, Aristotle in the analyzed passage stresses the necessity of moral behavior as a presupposition of harmonious relationships between people and their friendship. Moral turpitude is the opposition to the human’s purpose of life and leads to the loneliness and misfortune, which contradict the crucial idea of Aristotelian ethical philosophy, which is happiness.

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