previous next
Some try to find a more profound and scientific explanation of the nature of affection. Euripides1 writes that ‘Earth yearneth for the rain’ when dried up, ‘And the majestic Heaven when filled with rain Yearneth to fall to Earth.’ Heracleitus says, ‘Opposition unites,’ and ‘The fairest harmony springs from difference,’ and ‘'Tis strife that makes the world go on.’ Others maintain the opposite view, notably Empedocles, who declares that ‘Like seeks after like.’ 1. [7]

Dismissing then these scientific speculations as not germane to our present enquiry, let us investigate the human aspect of the matter, and examine the questions that relate to man's character and emotions: for instance, whether all men are capable of friendship, or bad men cannot be friends; and whether there is only one sort of friendship or several. Those who hold that all friendship is of the same kind because friendship admits of degree, are relying on an insufficient proof, for things of different kinds also can differ in degree. But this has been discussed before.2 2.

Perhaps the answer to these questions will appear if we ascertain what sort of things arouse liking or love. It seems that not everything is loved, but only what is lovable, and that this is either what is good, or pleasant, or useful. But useful may be taken to mean productive of some good or of pleasure, so that the class of things lovable as ends is reduced to the good and the pleasant. 2. [2] Then, do men like what is really good, or what is good for them? for sometimes the two may be at variance; and the same with what is pleasant. Now it appears that each person loves what is good for himself, and that while what is really good is lovable absolutely, what is good for a particular person is lovable for that person. Further, each person loves not what is really good for himself, but what appears to him to be so; however, this will not affect our argument, for ‘lovable’ will mean ‘what appears lovable.’ 2. [3]

There being then three motives of love, the term Friendship is not applied to love for inanimate objects, since here there is no return of affection, and also no wish for the good of the object—for instance, it would be ridiculous to wish well to a bottle of wine: at the most one wishes that it may keep well in order that one may have it oneself; whereas we are told that we ought to wish our friend well for his own sake. But persons who wish another good for his own sake, if the feeling is not reciprocated, are merely said to feel goodwill for him: only when mutual is such goodwill termed friendship. 2. [4] And perhaps we should also add the qualification that the feeling of goodwill must be known to its object. For a man often feels goodwill towards persons whom he has never seen, but whom he believes to be good or useful,

1 Fr. 890 Dindorf, from an unknown play.

2 No passage in the Ethics answers exactly to this reference.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
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 Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: