Give an example and discuss the three types of friendship that Aristotle addresses in Nicomachean Ethics, book 8, chapters 1–5. Discuss the way in which Aristotle would understand each type: that is, not only give an example but also explain why the example is a friendship of the type described. In addition, discuss what kind of person makes each type of friendship. Discuss each type of friendship in detail.

According to Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, the three types of friendship are friendship for the sake of pleasure, friendship for the sake of utility, and perfect friendship. The first friendship brings people together because of the pleasure they offer. The second friendship brings people together because of the material advantages they provide. The third friendship brings people together because of their innate goodness and virtue. As the name implies, this last friendship is the ideal friendship.

Expert Answers

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One friendship Aristotle discusses is a friendship for “the sake of pleasure.” In this friendship, Aristotle says that the two people involved like each other less for who they are and more for the pleasure they provide. That is, Person A likes Person B because Person B makes them feel good. Once, Person B stops making Person A feel good, the friendship, according to Aristotle, can be “easily dissolved.”

For an example of friendships for the sake of pleasure, Aristotle uses young people. According to Aristotle, “The friendship of young people seems to aim at pleasure.” He says young people are guided by their emotions and by what’s in front of them. You might link Aristotle’s depiction of passionate young people chasing instant gratification to popular representations of young people in TV shows and movies, including Euphoria and Clueless.

The friendship of pleasure has something in common with Aristotle’s next kind of friendship: friendship of utility. As with a friendship of pleasure, a friendship of utility is about obtaining something specific from a person. This time, it’s something more material or functional. For example, Person A might be friends with Person B because Person B can help Person A secure a job or earn money. There is, as Aristotle says, “an advantage.” They are, according to Aristotle, “lovers not of each other but of profit.” Alas, if the tangible benefit ends, the friendship does, too.

Lastly, there is what Aristotle calls “perfect friendship.” As the name implies, this is the ideal, most long-lasting type of friendship. In this friendship, people like each other because of who they are, not because they provide a specific pleasure of advantage. For example, if both Person A and Person B are virtuous, good people, they will have a perfect friendship. Their similar goodness and virtue will keep them together a long time.

Yet, as you might have noted, Aristotle says that perfect friendships are “infrequent.” As Aristotle reminds his readers, the possibility of two good, virtuous people finding each other is quite “rare.”

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 19, 2020
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