aristotle s nicomachean ethics vii viii
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Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics VII-VIII

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Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics VII-VIII. Philosophy of Love and Sex. Exhaustiveness?. Do all kinds of friendship fall into this? What about a friendship between three Nazis, dedicated to the purity of the Aryan race? What kind of friendship is it?. Imperfect cases?.

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  • Do all kinds of friendship fall into this?
  • What about a friendship between three Nazis, dedicated to the purity of the Aryan race? What kind of friendship is it?
imperfect cases
Imperfect cases?
  • We are not virtuous. Can we have character friendship?
  • Without virtue, can we recognize virtue?
  • Maybe it does take virtue to recognize virtue, but it doesn’t take the same virtue.
  • A lazy person can recognize the value of Thomas Edison’s hard work—but only because she has some virtues (practical wisdom — “prudence”?)
  • Friendship involves equality
  • Justice requires proportionality to merit
  • If too much inequality, friendship is impossible (humans and gods?)
  • There can be unequal friendships:
    • Parents and children
    • Spouses (unequal but complementary according to Aristotle)
  • These don’t seem to be friendships of utility and pleasure, so they are friendships of character.
  • So there seems to be hope for us imperfect people
self love
  • Vicious people don’t agree with themselves—conflicting desires
  • Good person satisfies all the conditions for friendship:
    • she lives with herself
    • she appreciates her own virtue
    • she is in agreement with herself
    • she acts in ways that benefit her (by acting virtuously)
what can someone who has everything else get out of friendship ix 9
What can someone who has everything else get out of friendship? (IX.9)
  • The person who has it all may not need friendships of pleasure and utility—but needs friendship of character
  • Happiness is an activity—need opportunities to exercise virtues like generosity
    • Why is this better with friends?
  • It’s our nature to live in community, to “live together”
  • Happiness includes enjoyment and study of virtuous actions that belong to one—but it’s easier to see them in someone else, and a friend is “another self”
  • Cooperation: doing things through another self
  • Furthering our own virtue
  • Happiness includes appreciation of good things, including living—living in an orderly, well-defined way. Perceiving the life of a friend—the good life of a friend—is pleasant.
differences from plato
Differences from Plato
  • Ultimate object of friendship: persons, not Forms
  • Interpersonal friendship is not a means to anything further—it is a constitutive part of happiness
miscellaneous questions
Miscellaneous questions
  • How many friends should we have?
  • Only so many as we can “live with” (share lives with).
  • When should we spend time with our friends?
  • Mainly when we can do good for them. But…
  • …we should not be kill-joys and deprive them of opportunities to help us.