Custom «Friendship» Essay Paper Sample



The term friendship has been used all around the world for a long time thus has different meanings to different people at different times of their lives as well as at different situations. Therefore defining friendship becomes very tricky since every individuals experiences it differently thus what constitutes friendship I one person does not necessarily constitute friendship to another.

This means that definition of friendship is subjective and diverse as the people in the world because each individual has relationship with another person which is unique to that combination. This is attributed to the fact that friendships grow and changes as individual's desires thus making definition of friendship to be dynamic in nature. Friendship is extracted from the word friend thus making friendship to be the relationship existing between two or more friends. Therefore friendship is a for m of interpersonal relationship closer than an association but with a varying range of degree of intimacy.

Friendship is measured by value attached to demonstration of the following in consistent basis: tendency to desire what is best for the other person, positive reciprocity i.e. relationship based on equal give and take between two individuals, trust- able to express ones feelings including relations to other persons actions without fearing of been judged thus facilitates emotional support to one another, honesty especially when pointing out some persons perceived faults and finally demonstration of sympathy or empathy. Based on many contemporary writers from the west friendship is viewed as a private, voluntary and happens amongst autonomous individuals. In this view friendship is seen to be special relationships that exist between two equal individuals who are involved in a uniquely constituted dyad'.

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"Friendship" in Aristotle's 'Ethics'

In the Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle presents his central theme in ethical enterprise that is concerned with Philia or friendship. Aristotle views friendship as treating another individual as if she is equal to oneself thus specifically friendship is taken as in intrinsic virtue that involves two people that reciprocate goodness (Muraco, 2005). Aristotle suggests that traditional idea of friendship constitutes of three components that includes the following: first component is that friendship must enjoy each others company, it must be useful to both parties involved and thirdly both parties must share common commitment to the good.

Friendship constitutes a significant part of the good life with much attention given in the Nicomachean Ethics as compared to other single topics in the books VIII and IX. Friendship in Aristotle ethics is a virtue or implies a virtue and is one of the most necessary requirements for living for without friends no person can make a choice to live despite having all other goods in abundance. Friendship stimulates noble actions as two parties in a friendship are able to think and act more than when they are not friends. In addition to that friendship seem to hold various sates together because when people are friends they don't necessarily require justice as friendship also require for them to be just thus the idea that the turrets form of justice is only attained in friendly quality as seen in VIII ,1. Aristotle side of friendship is the one that exists between men.

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Definition of friendship

According to Aristotle friendship begins from an impulse of goodwill and admiration where good will may suddenly rise similarly to the way it rises in a contest thus one is able to love only after being delighted by the form of the beloved. Contrary an individual admiration, goodwill and delight can not said to be love until the moment when one longs for the other person especially in his absence thus the crave for his presence thus resulting into practical deliberation and action of the general well -wishing results. Therefore good will can exist without friendship as those who feel good will only wish well to the ones for whom they feel goodwill but does not take any action to committing themselves to their troubles a value attributed to friendship (Reeder, 2003).

According to Aristotle friendship must be enjoyed by both parties being involved else the relationship will not be mutual. Each party much is feeling that they need each other in their life and enjoy being together. They also enjoy doing the same thing together and are interested in each other welfare. The second component is that each party involved in the friendship must be sharing common commitment of the friendship. To maintain a friendship it takes a lot of commitment that must be shared equally. Hence, if any party does no honor its commitment the friendship would be at a risk of collapse. Lastly is that the friendship must be beneficial to all those who are involved in it. If there are instances which the friendship is not beneficial then the party aggrieved or the one which has a feeling of being neglected might withdraw and the relationship will cease to exist.

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In his book VIII of the Ethics Aristotle in an attempt to define and defend his view on human virtues as related to happiness discusses friendship and according to him friendship is based on there basic motives that include, pleasant, the good and the useful. In addition to that every type of friendship must satisfy the criteria of being able to involve goodwill, a mutual awareness of such goodwill and thirdly must fulfill at least one of the motives of pleasant, good and useful. However according to Aristotle a truly good friendship must have its basis on the motive of good and in defending this point Aristotle addresses the differences that exist between extrinsic and the intrinsic motives that are concerned with friendship. This is evident in the text in the book VIII.3 where he says that those who love just for the sake of utility, loves for the sake of what is good for themselves while those who love for the sake of pleasure does so for what is pleasant to themselves (Lewis, 1974).

Therefore one can not be truly a friend to another person if his actions are motivated by pleasure or utility because such things confer an advantage to the friendship giver thus compromising his willingness to exchange goodness. For example if a friend is wealthy thus prompting the other person to frequently borrow money from him to cater for his extravagant and unnecessary expects like gambling then such king of friendship is fallacious as one only benefits as long as the wealth friend remains wealth but such kind of friendships ends immediately the wealth of the other person gets finished since the wealth is responsible for the ability of the wealth person to possess utility (Levine, 2009). Such kind of friendship can also be used to illustrate the friendship that is based on pleasure. For instance is one of the party involved in the friendship is an hilarious comedian and that each time the two spends time together the comedian friend gives his best jokes making the other person to enjoy and laugh the most, but the day the comedian friend ceases to makes hilarious jokes the other party who used to be friend with terminates the friendship because jokes or pleasure that formed the basis of such friendship is no longer there and the party no longer derives pleasure from the company of the previously comic friend. According to Aristotle the friendship is terminated based on the fact that the other party has become deficient in giving the pleasure thus rendering the company or the friendship unpleasurable (Heyking, 2008).

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Therefore, conclusion that only everlasting friendship that is not subjected to change is the one that has its foundation on goodness. Thus a perfect type of friendship involves persons who wish well on their friends fro their sakes only because even after the wealth or the funny friend cease to be wealth or funny the other friend will still value their relationship by willing that the friend's hard times may be ameliorated. Contrary to that it also doesn't mean that friendships that are based on goodness can not bring utility or pleasure because such things are products of perfect friendship but should never come as priority to goodness. Therefore Aristotle's central point is that virtue is deliberate and static whereas the utility and pleasure are just accidental goods thus friendships based on reciprocal goodness becomes the ultimate way of acquiring virtue.

When it comes to individual capable of engaging in ideal friendship Aristotle believes that lovers for example cannot engage in prefect friendship because their type of friendship is based on pleasure of the other person. In addition to that he also believe that bad men are not able of befriending the good men and this is attributed to the fact that their bad nature prevents them from exchanging their goodness to the other party therefore anytime there is a discrepancy between the friend engaged in the friendship bonding no equal and mutual goodwill. However, according to Aristotle this rule has exceptions' such as the friendship where the unequal rulers have with their subjects and another example of an exceptional relation is the one that exist between a mother and a child as the mother unconditionally loves her child without motives of pleasure or utility while on the other hand the child is capable of being incapable of reciprocating the love that his mother levies upon him and Aristotle find this point immaterially especially considering the nature of the relationship. In normal contemporary setting its hard to find mother and child being described as being friends but in delivering this point Aristotle resorts to ad hoc improvisation of his ethical theory making one believe that in this case the child is able to fulfill criterion of mutual awareness of exchange of goodness thus can be considered a friend to the mother.

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According to Aristotle ethics another facet of friendship is the mutual pleasure and the frequent contact where he argues that no one can be willing to spend his times with someone whose company is unpleasant, painful as natures tend to avoid the above and aim at the pleasant things thus the tendency of friends of two friend to first enjoy each others company for them to be described as being friends. In addition to that friends must also be able to visit each other frequently just as the way a truly courageous man has to act courageously in a consistent and habitual manner in order to be considered courage's so thus friends who must frequent each other in a habitual manner in order to be considered friends. In addition to that friendship that is based on virtue is hardly affected by slander, suspicion, rumor or other impediments and this is because such kind of relationship prompts the two friends to trust each other indelibly and completely. Finally Aristotle believes that a good friendship involves sharing of emotions and likes thus when one friend rejoices the other friend shares in his joy and this applies for sadness. Ultimately in his ethics Aristotle believe that his version of an ideal friendship occurs only once and that every person can only be able to have one best friend.

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Cicero's 'On Friendship'

Cicero in his works writes of his own experience when it comes to friendship and ponders about it using the relationship that exits between Scorpio Africanus and Laelius in explaining his views on the topic. Cicero enumerates on what he sees as qualities of a good friend, explains the characteristics that exposes a bad friend and finally provides examples from personal life that explains of friendship. In summary Cicero view on friendship emphasis o the importance of virtue and how true friendship hardly exists without it.

Cicero believes that friendship is only possible between good men who are virtuous and follow in nature. Such kind of friendship is based on virtue and despite the fact that it offers material advantages its aim is not to seek them at all. Moreover according to Cicero true friendships are rare to find and that it constitutes if a complete sympathy in all matters of importance including affection and goodwill and that without virtue no friendship can exist. He goes further to say that friendship makes life worth living without which no one wishes to exist without the love of friend as they provide hope for the future. Hi believes that people don't seek friendship because of a sense of personal inadequacy but rather comes from human nature itself which is a love of virtue. The admiration of such virtue should be accompanied by shared kindnesses which in turn yield friendship which is based on admiration of each others virtues. In addition to that Cicero also argues that generosity form part of the human nature which excludes pleasure as the main goal of life and includes virtue as the goal of life.

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Moreover Ciceros belief on friendship is that some friendships are terminated when one of the partied engaged ask for something immoral and that wrong doing can not be excused either if committed for the sake of a friend. Some of the qualities of good and loyal friends include the following; never asking a wrongful thing from friends teaches each other on the ways of not acting wrongfully towards friends. Cicero also argues that the friendship of evil men should be suppressed and one should be in a position to ask friends to do only things that are honorable. Other values that Cicero gives to friendship are: friendship cannot be bought, good men are only attracted to good men, people weaken by luxurious living can not be good role models fro friendship, what one feels towards a friend should be what one feels towards oneself and that one must do to a friend what they are done to them by their friends while valuing oneself as he is valued by his friends, friendship should be devoid of flattery, hypersensitivity, hypocrisy, friends should accept criticism from each other and talk to each other frankly and that one must constantly test and observe ones friends. Also friendship can only make one to change in order to please the other and mutual respect is essential fro any friendship to survive (Annas, & Woolf, 2001).

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Both the Aristotle's views on friendship and Cicero's views are mostly related with both emphasizing on the significance of virtue when it comes to formation of friendship. Moreover both believe that friendship is not formed between good and bad men and that good man from friendship with good men who then build themselves making themselves better people. Friendships are not formed based on the advantages and material thing that one derives from the other but rather on sharing of emotions and likes which renders the relation virtuous and long lasting. Cicero emphasized that friendship coexist only on people who mostly share the same values. Hence he has all along concluded that friendship is based on virtual of all the parties which are involved.  

Experiences on Friendship

In real life situation, it is no doubt that friendship is of paramount significance just as Aristotle said. In all level of life, from childhood to adulthood, individuals strive to make and keep friends for various purposes. This is echoed the following statement;

For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods. It stimulates to noble actions -- "two going together" -- for with friends men are more able both to think and act... Friendship seems to hold states together...











I clearly remember when I was in high school, new naïve not knowing anybody. Before knowing who to associate with, life in school far from family members and close friends of mine seemed to be miserable, unworthy living. Basing on the kinds of friends I had back home who were good people to me I resorted to look for a good person. Ideally speaking, during my years in that school, I met with the three categories of friends discussed by Aristotle. I realized through my desire to have a perfect friend that indeed it is difficult as suggested by Aristotle (Adams & Allan, 1998). Additionally, majority of the friendship I encountered was based on utility. For instance, some befriended me only for academic purposes as we could discuses (Pakaluk, 1991). This ended with the end of terms exams. For this reason, I come to concur with both Aristotle and Cicero who concluded that finding individuals who have the qualities of attracting affection are rare to find.

Currently, the advent and internet has almost changed everything with regards to friendship, however, there are various attributes brought forth by the two re-known philosophers that still hold. For instance, the issue of friendship being a virtue where one should show concern for the needs of the other without hesitation still holds. Socially, various groups of individual organize their friendship in varying manner. For instance based on social class and stratification; those in the middle class clearly depicts what is meant to be in a friendship.

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With his kind of friendship, when an individual who is liked is met, the relationship developed extends and end up ensuring that the two individuals are actively involved in other significant social contexts. On the other hand, the working class there is no single manner to define the way they form friendship. According to Allan, 1996 this group tends to remain bounded by the initial setting for interaction... Thus, these individuals are not seen elsewhere unless they also happen to share other activities in common: people from a leisure or sporting club are routinely invited home; neighbors are not often invited to take part in social activities.

The pattern of friendship also tends to vary with gender at present time. Research show and I buy the same idea that men tend to hold emotional reticent and fear homoerotic overtones. On the other hand women seem to be more articulate as well as accomplished emotionally. On the same note more men as compared to may not be able to find friends in places of work.

In my own opinion, the three major classification of friendship by Aristotle which include friendship based on utility purely based on material things or other sort of benefits, friendship based on pleasure usually between the young people that breaks frequently and lastly perfect friendship are broad enough to cover the kind of friendship in the current world. However, although Aristotle gave an example of only young people showing and engaging in friendship based on pleasure is also depicted by some adults in the society. For instance, there are married individuals who look for pleasure especially sexual from other individuals other than their spouses. It is worth noting that this kind of relationship is short term and in most cases has led to breaking of long term friendship between spouses.

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Similarly, there is no single person who can live happily in this world without having a friends or friend. Live for such individuals who think that they can be in a position to live without having friends will indeed be miserable. The two philosophers hold the same view when it comes to this issue. The notion that virtue is key in friendship in my opinion is undisputable. Without virtue one cannot be in position to show concern, empathy as well as sympathy to others. According to Cicero good friendship is where there is exchange of constructive advice without fear of judgment. In deed this is what defines friendship in part (Anderson, 2001).


From the review of the theories of friendship brought forth by Aristotle and Cicero, there are some similarities as well as differences. The three major types of friendship discussed by Aristotle are; friendship based on pleasure, utility and perfect friendship. Both scholars contend that one cannot live without having a friend. Additionally, both held the view that we should at all time do good to our friends. However, Cicero was of the view that we opt to give advice without hesitation to those we call friends.

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