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[1240a] [1] Hence sometimes people take delight in persons unlike themselves, the stiff for instance in the witty and the active in the lazy, for they are brought by one another into the middle state. Hence accidentally, as was said,1 opposites are dear to opposites also on account of the good.

It has, then, been said how many kinds of friendship there are, and what are the different senses in which people are termed friends, and also givers and objects of affection, both in a manner that makes them actually friends and without being friends.

The question whether one is one's own friend or not involves much consideration. Some think that every man is his own best friend, and they use this friendship as a standard by which to judge his friendship for his other friends. On theoretical grounds, and in view of the accepted attributes of friends, self-love and love of others are in some respects opposed but in others manifestly similar. For in a way self-love is friendship by analogy, but not absolutely. For being loved and loving involve two separate factors; owing to which a man is his own friend rather in the way in which, in the case of the unrestrained and the self-restrained man, we have said2 how one has those qualities voluntarily or involuntarily—namely by the parts of one's spirit being related to each other in a certain way; and all such matters are a similar thing,whether a man can be his own friend or foe, and whether a man can treat himself unjustly. [20] For all these relations involve two separate factors; in so far then as the spirit is in a manner two, these relations do in a manner belong to it, but in so far as the two are not separate, they do not.

From the state of friendship for oneself are determined the remaining modes of friendship under which we usually study it in our discourses.3 For a man is thought to be a friend who wishes for somebody things that are good, or that he believes to be good, not on his own account but for the other's sake; and in another way when a man wishes another's existence—even though not bestowing goods on him, let alone existence—for that other's sake and not for his own, he would be thought to be in a high degree the friend of that other; and in another way a man is a friend of one whose society he desires merely for the sake of his company and not for something else, as fathers desire their children's existence, though they associate with other people. All these cases conflict with one another; some men do not think they are loved unless the friend wishes them this or that particular good, others unless their existence is desired, others unless their society. Again we shall reckon it affection to grieve with one who grieves not for some ulterior motive—as for instance slaves in relation to their masters share their grief because when in grief they are harsh, and not for their masters' own sake, as mothers grieve with their children, and birds that share each other's pain. For a friend wishes most of all that he might not only feel pain when his friend is in pain but feel actually the same pain—for example when he is thirsty, share his thirst—if this were possible, and if not, as nearly the same as may be. The same principle applies also in the case of joy; it is characteristic of a friend to rejoice for no other reason than because the other is rejoicing.

1 Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1239b 32.

2 Cf. Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1223a 36-b 17. Self-restraint (or the lack of it) indicates that a man's personality has in a sense two parts, one of which may control the other; and similarly self-love implies that one part of the personality can have a certain feeling in regard to another part.

3 Cf. Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1244a 20. Perhaps a reference to Aristotle's lectures (Stock).

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 2.1223a
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 7.1244a
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