Posted by: Angela | February 7, 2012

Friendship Ethics

Friendship Ethics

Aristotle is one of the greatest early thinkers who set forth to a great many ethics to follow after.

His philosophy on friendship is one that always intrigues me, rather convinces me the best.

His theory begins with the premise that there are three main reasons why one person might like someone else. One might like someone because he is good, or because he is useful, or because he is pleasant. And so there are three bases for friendships, depending on which of these qualities binds friends together.

When two individuals recognize that the other person is someone of good character, and they spend time with each other, engaged in activities that exercise their virtues, then they form one kind of friendship. If they are equally virtuous, their friendship is perfect. – This is friendship based on virtue. This is a true and lasting friendship, necessary for self-knowledge and helps both of the friends to grow in virtue. This kind of friendship presupposes justice and goes beyond it. The virtue of a friend is to love. The reality is that we will be fortunate indeed to have even a handful of friendships based on virtue in our lives.

Friendship based on usefulness – its friend for a reason. Friendship based on pleasure – a friend for a season. This friendship obviously will only last as the long as each party derives the usefulness or pleasure he desires from the relationship. Sadly, people mistake these for virtuous friendships, only to find out too late that they are not.

Once we recognize the handful of true, virtuous friendships in our lives, deciding how to set our priorities and where to spend our time becomes much clearer indeed.


  1. What a stimulating post! It’s just a shame that there doesn’t seem to be many ‘virtuous’ friends around. I often mistake friendships for this kind, only to realise I was deemed of the ‘useful’ variety and had served my purpose.

    • Thanks for your comment Kelly!
      exactly – i feel the same!
      Yeah, sometimes it makes me feel sad to even analyse this, right?

  2. Reblogged this on Suba.

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