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In this sense then, as we said above, it is right to be a lover of self, though self-love of the ordinary sort is wrong. 9.

Another debated question is whether friends are necessary or not for happiness. People say that the supremely happy are self-sufficing, and so have no need of friends: for they have the good things of life already, and therefore, being complete in themselves, require nothing further; whereas the function of a friend, who is a second self, is to supply things we cannot procure for ourselves. Hence the saying1 “ When fortune favors us, what need of friends?

” [2]

But it seems strange that if we attribute all good things to the happy man we should not assign him friends, which we consider the greatest of external goods. Also if it be more the mark of a friend to give than to receive benefits, and if beneficence is a function of the good man and of virtue, and it is is nobler to benefit friends than strangers, the good man will need friends as the objects of his beneficence.Hence the further question is asked: Are friends more needed in prosperity or in adversity? It is argued that the unfortunate need people to be kind to them, but also that the prosperous need people to whom they may be kind. [3]

Also perhaps it would be strange to represent the supremely happy man as a recluse. Nobody would choose to have all possible good things on the condition that he must enjoy them alone; for man is a social being,2 and designed by nature to live with others; accordingly the happy man must have society, for he has everything that is naturally good. And it is obviously preferable to associate with friends and with good men than with strangers and chance companions. Therefore the happy man requires friends. [4]

What then do the upholders of the former view mean, and in what sense is it true? Perhaps the explanation of it is that most men think of friends as being people who are useful to us. Now it is true that the supremely happy man will have no need of friends of that kind, inasmuch as he is supplied with good things already. Nor yet will he want friends of the pleasant sort, or only to a very small extent, for his life is intrinsically pleasant and has no need of adventitious pleasure. And as he does not need useful or pleasant friends, it is assumed that he does not require friends at all. [5]

But perhaps this inference is really untrue. For as we said at the beginning,3 happiness is a form of activity, and an activity clearly is something that comes into being, not a thing that we possess all the time, like a piece of property. But if happiness consists in life and activity, and the activity of a good man, as was said at the beginning,4 is good and so pleasant in itself, and if the sense that a thing is our own is also pleasant, yet we are better able to contemplate our neighbors than ourselves, and their actions than our own, and thus good men find pleasure in the actions of other good men who are their friends,

1 Eur. Orest. 665.

2 See 1.7.6, note.

3 1.7.15. The argument for friendship from the definition of happiness as virtuous and therefore pleasant activity is threefold: ( α) the virtuous actions of our friends give us (by sympathy) the same pleasure as our own; ( β) good activities (e.g. study) can be carried on longer (because less liable to fatigue) ; ( γ) virtuous friends increase our own virtue (as we unconsciously imitate their acts). Hence friends useful and pleasant because virtuous (though not useful or pleasant friends in the ordinary sense) are necessary adjuncts of happiness.

4 1.8.13.

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