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[1239a] [1] There being then, as has been said,1 three kinds of friendship, based on goodness, utility and pleasantness, these are again divided in two, one set being on a footing of equality and the other on one of superiority. Though both sets, therefore, are friendships, only when they are on an equality are the parties friends; for it would be absurd for a man to be a friend of a child, though he does feel affection for him and receive it from him. In some cases, while the superior partner ought to receive affection, if he gives it he is reproached as loving an unworthy object; for affection is measured by the worth of the friends and by one sort of equality.2 So in some cases there is properly a dissimilarity of affection because of inferiority of age, in others on the ground of goodness or birth or some other such superiority; it is right for the superior to claim to feel3 either less affection or none, alike in a friendship of utility and in one of pleasure and one based on goodness. So in cases of small degrees of superiority disputes naturally occur (for a small amount is not of importance in some matters, as in weighing timber, though in gold plate it is; but people judge smallness of amount badly, since one's own good because of its nearness appears big and that of others because of its remoteness small); but when there is an excessive amount of difference, then even the parties themselves do not demand that they ought to be loved in return, or not loved alikeā€”for example, if one were claiming a return of love from God. [20] It is manifest, therefore, that men are friends when they are on an equality, but that a return of affection is possible without their being friends. And it is clear why men seek friendship on a basis of superiority more than that on one of equality; for in the former case they score both affection and a sense of superiority at the same time. Hence with some men the flatterer is more esteemed than the friend, for he makes the person flattered appear to score both advantages. And this most of all characterizes men ambitious of honors, since to be admired implies superiority. Some persons grow up by nature affectionate and others ambitious; one who enjoys loving more than being loved is affectionate, whereas the other enjoys being loved more. So the man who enjoys being admired and loved is a lover of superiority, whereas the other, the affectionate man, loves the pleasure of loving. For this he necessarily possesses by the mere activity of loving; for being loved is an accident, as one can be loved without knowing it, but one cannot love without knowing it. Loving depends, more than being loved, on the actual feeling, whereas being loved corresponds with the nature of the object. A sign of this is that a friend, if both things were not possible, would choose to know the other person rather than to be known by him, as for example women do when they allow others to adopt their children, and Andromache in the tragedy of Antiphon.4 Indeed the wish to be known seems to be selfish, and its motive a desire to receive and not to confer some benefit, whereas to wish to know a person is for the sake of conferring benefit and bestowing affection.

1 See Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1236a 7-1237b 15.

2 i.e. proportional equality: see note on Aristot. Eud. Eth. 1238b 21.

3 Or 'one ought to expect the superior to feel . . .'

4 This poet lived at Syracuse at the court of Dionysus the elder (who came into power 406 B.C.). He is said to have written tragedies in collaboration with the tyrant; and he was sentenced by him to death by flogging (Aristot. Rhet. 1384a 9).

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 7.1236a
    • Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, 7.1238b
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