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There are then, as we said at the outset, three kinds of friendship, and in each kind there are both friends who are on an equal footing and friends on a footing of disparity; for two equally good men may be friends, or one better man and one worse; and similarly with pleasant friends and with those who are friends for the sake of utility, who may be equal or may differ in the amount of the benefits1 which they confer. Those who are equals must make matters equal by loving each other, etc.,2 equally; those who are unequal by making a return3 proportionate to the superiority of whatever kind on the one side. [2]

Complaints and recriminations occur solely or chiefly in friendships of utility, as is to be expected. In a friendship based on virtue each party is eager to benefit the other, for this is characteristic of virtue and of friendship; and as they vie with each other in giving and not in getting benefit, no complaints nor quarrels can arise, since nobody is angry with one who loves him and benefits him, but on the contrary, if a person of good feeling, requites him with service in return; and the one who outdoes the other in beneficence will not have any complaint against his friend, since he gets what he desires, and what each man desires is the good.4 [3] Nor again are complaints likely to occur between friends whose motive is pleasure either; for if they enjoy each other's company, both alike get what they wish for; and indeed it would seem ridiculous to find fault with somebody for not being agreeable to you, when you need not associate with him if you do not want to do so. [4] But a friendship whose motive is utility is liable to give rise to complaints. For here the friends associate with each other for profit, and so each always wants more, and thinks he is getting less than his due; and they make it a grievance that they do not get as much as they want and deserve; and the one who is doing a service can never supply all that the one receiving it wants. [5]

It appears that, as justice is of two kinds, one unwritten and the other defined by law, so the friendship based on utility may be either moral5 or legal. Hence occasions for complaint chiefly occur when the type of friendship in view at the conclusion of the transaction is not the same as when the a relationship was formed. [6] Such a connection when on stated terms is one of the legal type, whether it be a purely business matter of exchange on the spot, or a more liberal accommodation for future repayment,6 though still with an agreement as to the quid pro quo; and in the latter case the obligation is clear and cannot cause dispute, though there is an element of friendliness in the delay allowed, for which reason in some states there is no action at law in these cases, it being held that the party to a contract involving credit must abide by the consequences. [7] The moral type on the other hand is not based on stated terms, but the gift or other service is given as to a friend, although the giver expects to receive an equivalent or greater return, as though it had not been a free gift but a loan; and as he ends the relationship in a different spirit from that in which he began it, he will complain.7 [8] The reason of this is that all men, or most men, wish what is noble but choose what is profitable; and while it is noble to render a service not with an eye to receiving one in return, it is profitable to receive one. [9] One ought therefore, if one can, to return the equivalent of services received, and to do so willingly; for one ought not to make a man one's friend if one is unwilling to return his favors. Recognizing therefore that one has made a mistake at the beginning and accepted a service from a wrong person—that is, a person who was not a friend, and was not acting disinterestedly8 —one should accordingly end the transaction as if one had accepted the service on stated terms. Also, one would agree9 to repay a service if able to do so (and if one were not able, the giver on his side too would not have expected repayment); hence, if possible, one ought to make a return. But one ought to consider at the beginning from whom one is receiving the service, and on what terms, so that one may accept it on those terms or else decline it. [10]

Dispute may arise however as to the value of the service rendered. Is it to be measured by the benefit to the recipient, and the return made on that basis, or by the cost to the doer? The recipient will say that what he received was only a trifle to his benefactor, or that he could have got it from someone else: he beats down the value. The other on the contrary will protest that it was the most valuable thing he had to give, or that it could not have been obtained from anybody else, or that it was bestowed at a time of danger or in some similar emergency. [11] Perhaps then we may say that, when the friendship is one of utility, the measure of the service should be its value to the recipient, since it is he who wants it, and the other comes to his aid in the expectation of an equivalent return; therefore the degree of assistance rendered has been the amount to which the recipient has benefited, and so he ought to pay back as much as he has got out of it; or even more, for that will be more noble.

In friendships based on virtue, complaints do not arise, but the measure of the benefit seems to be the intention10 of the giver; for intention is the predominant factor in virtue and in character.

1 i.e., the pleasure or utility as the case may be.

2 i.e., ‘and by being good or pleasant and useful.’

3 The one who is less good or pleasant or useful must give more affection: see 6.6, note, 7.2.

4 The last clause is suspected as an interpolation.

5 i.e., either a ‘moral obligation’ or a contract enforceable by law. It is noteworthy that the term ‘friendship’ is stretched to include the latter.

6 Or ‘more liberal in point of time.’

7 Sc., if disappointed of the return he expects.

8 Lit., ‘was not doing the service for its own sake,’ or perhaps ‘for the sake of friendship.’ But probably the text should be corrected to read ‘was not doing the service for one's own sake’: cf. 9.1.7, 10.6 fin.

9 i.e., in any case of the sort, if at the outset the question of repayment were raised.

10 Lit., ‘choice’ in Aristotle's technical sense.

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