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[1239b] [1] For this reason we praise those who remain constant in affection towards the dead; for they know, but are not known. It has, then, been stated that there are several modes of friendship, and how many modes there are, namely three, and that receiving affection and having one's affection returned, and friends on an equality and those on a footing of superiority, are different.

But as the term 'friend' is used in a more universal sense as well, as was also said at the beginning,1 by those who take in wider considerations (some saying that what is like is dear, others what is opposite), we must also speak about these forms of friendship and their relation to the kinds that have been discussed. As for likeness, it connects with pleasantness and also with goodness. For the good is simple, whereas the bad is multiform; and also the good man is always alike and does not change in character, whereas the wicked and the foolish are quite different in the evening from what they were in the morning. Hence if wicked men do not hit it off together, they are not friends with one another but they separate; yet an insecure friendship is not friendship at all. So the like is dear to us in this way, because the good is like. But in a way it is also dear on the score of pleasantness; for to those who are alike the same things are pleasant, and also everything is by nature pleasant to itself. [20] Owing to this relations find one another's voices and characters and society pleasantest, and so with the lower animals; and in this way it is possible even for bad men to feel affection for each other: "But pleasure welds the bad man to the bad."2 But opposite is dear to opposite on the score of utility. For the like is useless to itself, and therefore master needs slave and slave master, man and wife need one another; and the opposite is pleasant and desirable as useful, not as contained in the End but as a means to the End—for when a thing has got what it desires it has arrived at its End, and does not strive to get its opposite, for example the hot the cold and the wet the dry.

But in a way love of the opposite is also love of the good. For opposites strive to reach one another through the middle point, for they strive after each other as tallies,3 because in that way one middle thing results from the two. Hence accidentally love of the good is love of the opposite, but essentially it is love of the middle, for opposites do not strive to reach one another but the middle. If when people have got too cold they are subjected to heat, and when they have got too hot to cold, they reach a mean temperature, and similarly in other matters; but without such treatment they are always in a state of desire, because they are not at the middle points. But a man in the middle enjoys without passionate desire things by nature pleasant, whereas the others enjoy everything that takes them outside their natural state. This kind of relationship, then, exists even between inanimate things; but when it occurs in the case of living things it becomes affection.

1 Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1235a 4 ff.

2 Cf. Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1238a 34 note.

3 The two halves of a bone or coin broken in half by two contracting parties and one kept by each, to serve as a token of identification when found to fit together.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 7.1235a
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 7.1238a
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