The forms which friendly feeling
for our neighbors takes, and the marks by which the different forms of friendship are
defined, seem to be derived from the feelings of regard which we entertain for ourselves.
A friend is defined as （a） one who wishes, and promotes by action, the
real or apparent good of another for that other's sake; or （b） one who
wishes the existence and preservation of his friend for the friend's sake. （This
is the feeling of mothers towards their children, and of former friends who have
Others say that a friend is （c） one who frequents another's society, and
（d） who desires the same things as he does, or （e） one
who shares his friend's joys and sorrows. （This too is very characteristic of
mothers.） Friendship also is defined by one or other of these marks.2
But each of them is also found in a good man's feelings
towards himself （and in those of all other men as well, in so far as they believe
themselves to be good; but, as has been said, virtue and the virtuous man seem to be the
standard in everything）.
（d） the good man is of one mind with himself, and desires the same
things with every part of his nature. Also （a） he wishes his own good,
real as well as apparent, and seeks it by action （for it is a mark of a good man
to exert himself actively for the good） ; and he does so for his own sake
（for he does it on account of the intellectual part of himself, and this appears
to be a man's real self）. Also （b） he desires his own life and
security, and especially that of his rational part.
existence is good for the virtuous man; and everyone wishes his own good: no one would choose to possess every good in the world on
condition of becoming somebody else （for God possesses the good even as it
but only while
remaining himself, whatever he may be; and it would appear that the thinking part is the
real self, or is so more than anything else.
（c） the good man desires his own company; for he enjoys being by
himself, since he has agreeable memories of the past, and good hopes for the future, which
are pleasant too; also his mind is stored with subjects for contemplation. And
（e） he is keenly conscious of his own joys and sorrows; for the same
things give him pleasure or pain at all times, and not different things at different
times, since he is not apt to change his mind.
It is therefore because the good man has these various feelings towards himself, and
because he feels towards his friend in the same way as towards himself （for a
friend is another self） , that friendship also is thought to consist in one or
other of these feelings, and the possession of them is thought to be the test of a friend.
Whether a man can be said actually to feel friendship for himself is a question that may
be dismissed for the present; though it may be held that he can do so in so far4
as he is a dual or composite being, and because very intense
friendship resembles self regard.
As a matter of fact, the feelings of self-regard described appear to be found in most
people, even though they are of inferior moral worth. Perhaps men share them in so far as
they have their own approval and believe in their own virtue; since the utterly worthless
and criminal never possess them, or even have the appearance of doing so.
Indeed it may almost be said that no morally inferior persons possess
them. For （d） such persons are at variance with themselves, desiring one
thing and wishing another: this is the mark of the unrestrained, who choose what is
pleasant but harmful instead of what they themselves think to be good.
（a） Others again, out of cowardice and idleness, neglect to do what they
think best for their own interests. And （b） men who have committed a
number of crimes, and are hated for their wickedness, actually flee from life and make
away with themselves.
Also （c） bad men
constantly seek the society of others and shun their own company, because when they are by
themselves they recall much that was unpleasant in the past and anticipate the same in the
future, whereas with other people they can forget. Moreover they feel no affection for
themselves, because they have no lovable qualities. Hence （e） such men
do not enter into their own joys and sorrows, as there is civil war in their souls;
one part of their nature, owing to depravity, is
pained by abstinence from certain indulgences while another part is pleased by it; one
part pulls them one way and another the other, as if dragging them asunder.
Or if it be impossible to feel pain and pleasure at the same
time, at all events after indulging in pleasure they regret it a little later, and wish
they had never acquired a taste for such indulgences; since the bad are always changing
Thus a bad man appears to be devoid even of affection for himself, because he has nothing
lovable in his nature. If then such a state of mind is utterly miserable, we should do our
utmost to shun wickedness and try to be virtuous. That is the way both to be friends with
ourselves and to win the friendship of others.