previous next
[1244b] [1]

We must also consider self-sufficiency and friendship, and the interrelationship of their potentialities. For one may raise the question whether if a person be self-sufficing in every respect he will have a friend, or whether on the contrary a friend is sought for in need, and the good man will be most self-sufficing. If the life that is combined with goodness is happy, what need would there be of a friend? For it does not belong to the self-sufficing man to need either useful friends or friends to amuse him and society, for he is sufficient society for himself. This is most manifest in the case of God; for it is clear that as he needs nothing more he will not need a friend, and that supposing he has no need of one he will not have one. Consequently the happiest human being also will very little need a friend, except in so far as to be self-sufficing is impossible. Of necessity, therefore, he who lives the best life will have fewest friends, and they will constantly become fewer, and he will not be eager to have friends but will think lightly not only of useful friends but also of those desirable for society. But assuredly even his case would seem to show that a friend is not for the sake of utility or benefit but that one loved on account of goodness is the only real friend. For when we are not in need of something, then we all seek people to share our enjoyments, and beneficiaries rather than benefactors; [20] and we can judge them better when we are self-sufficing than when in need, and we most need friends who are worthy of our society.

But about this question we must consider whether perhaps, although the view stated is partly sound, in part the truth escapes us because of the comparison.1 The matter is clear if we ascertain what life in the active sense and as an End is. It is manifest that life is perception and knowledge, and that consequently social life is perception and knowledge in common. But perception and knowledge themselves are the thing most desirable for each individually (and it is owing to this that the appetition for life is implanted by nature in all, for living must be deemed a mode of knowing). If therefore one were to abstract and posit absolute knowledge and its negation (though this, it is true, is obscure in the argument as we have written it, but it may be observed in experience), there would be no difference between absolute knowledge and another person's knowing instead of oneself; but that is like another person's living instead of oneself, whereas perceiving and knowing oneself is reasonably more desirable. For two things must be taken into consideration together, that life is desirable and that good is desirable, and as a consequence that it is desirable for ourselves to possess a nature of that quality.2

1 i.e. of man with God, l. 8 above; cf. Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1245b 13.

2 τοιαύτην= ἀγαθήν.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1884)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (3 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: