It is clear from this that the primary
friendship, that of the good, is mutual reciprocity of affection and
purpose. For the object of affection is dear to the giver of it, but
also the giver of affection is himself dear to the object. This friendship, therefore,
only occurs in man, for he alone perceives purpose; but the other
forms occur also in the lower animals. Indeed mutual utility
manifestly exists to some small extent between the domestic animals
and man, and between animals themselves, for instance Herodotus's
account of the friendship between the crocodile and the
perching together and separating of birds of which soothsayers speak.
The bad may be
each other's friends from motives both of utility and of pleasure;
though some say
that they are not really friends, because the primary kind of
friendship does not belong to them, since obviously a bad man will
injure a bad man, and those who suffer injury from one another do not
feel affection for one another. But as a matter of fact bad men do feel affection for
one another, though not according to the primary form of
friendship—because clearly nothing hinders their being
friends under the other forms, since for the sake of pleasure they put
up with one another although they are being harmed, so long as they
are lacking in self-restraint. The view is also held, when people look into the
matter closely, that those who feel affection for each other on
account of pleasure are not friends, because it is not the primary
friendship, since that is reliable but this is unreliable.
But as a matter of fact it is
friendship, as has been said, though not that sort of friendship but
one derived from it.
Therefore to confine the use of the term friend to that form of
friendship alone is to do violence to observed facts, and compels one
to talk paradoxes; though it is not possible to bring all friendship
under one definition.
The only remaining alternative, therefore, is, that in a sense the
primary sort of friendship alone is friendship, but in a sense all
sorts are, not as having a common name by accident and standing in a
merely chance relationship to one another, nor yet as falling under
one species, but rather as related to one thing.
And since the same thing is absolutely good and absolutely pleasant
at the same time if nothing interferes, and the true friend and friend
absolutely is the primary friend, and such is a friend chosen in and
for himself (and he must necessarily be such, for he for whom one
wishes good for his own sake must necessarily be desirable for his own
sake), a true friend is
also absolutely pleasant; owing to which it is thought that a friend
of any sort is pleasant.
But we must define this still further, for it is debatable whether
what is good merely for oneself is dear or what is absolutely good,
and whether the actual exercise of affection is accompanied by
pleasure, so that an object of affection is also pleasant, or not.
Both questions must be brought to the same issue; for things not
absolutely good but possibly evil are to be avoided, and also a thing
not good for oneself is no concern of oneself, but what is sought for
is that things absolutely good shall be good for oneself. For the absolutely good is
absolutely desirable, but what is good for oneself is desirable for