Nicomachean Ethics: Friendship, Virtue And Happiness

935 words - 4 pages

 
 
            In the writings of Aristotle, seen in Nicomachean Ethics, it is evident that Aristotle believes that friendship is necessary for a virtuous and therefore happy life. I believe that this is accurate due to the similar conditions necessary for a complete friendship and a happy life. It is also evident that friendship is useful in achieving a happy life because friendship can make performing virtuous actions easier. His interpretation can be misunderstood and mistakes in practice can be made, so we will need to discuss these follies as well, in order to understand all the effects of friendship on achieving a happy life.

            Let us first examine the similarities of friendship with that of happiness and virtue, which we discussed previously is the most necessary part of a happy life. Aristotle describes happiness by saying “happiness is most choiceworthy of all the goods (1097b17-18).” His idea of choiceworthy is something we choose “because of itself, never because of something else (1097b).” Friendship is seen as similar to happiness when Aristotle describes friendship as “choiceworthy in its own right (1159a27).” Proven earlier, virtue is necessary for a happy life because “happiness is a certain sort of activity of the soul in accord with virtue (1099b26-27).” Since virtue is such an integral part of happiness, the similarity between friendship and virtue is relevant to the relationship between friendship and a happy life. Aristotle describes virtues as “states (1106a14),” and at the same time describes friendship as “a state (1157b30),” as well. He goes on further to say, “Just as, in the case of virtues, some people are called good in their state of character, others good in their activity, the same is true of friendship (1157b5-7).” It seems, according to Aristotle, that virtuous people make the best friends, “complete friendship is the friendship of good people similar in virtue (1156b7-8).” Lastly, it is evident that both virtue and friendship are voluntary, for you cannot “make a friend of someone who is unwilling (1163a13),” and “virtue is also up to us (1113b8),” because “decision is proper to a friend and to virtue (1164b2).” With so many similarities between  friendship and virtue it is logical to assume that friendship accords with virtue as a part of happiness.

            Since we have discussed the states of friendship and virtue in relationship to happiness, we must now examine the activities of friendship and virtue that make a happy life easier to attain. Aristotle claimed that of the goods in life “some are necessary conditions of happiness, while others are naturally useful and cooperative as instruments (1099b28-29).” He goes on further to exclaim that “having friends seems to be the greatest external good (1169b10-11).” Therefore this external good would be useful in attaining happiness. Friendship...

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