Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 8, Chapter 11 (1161a10-1161b10)

By Aristotle

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Book 8, Chapter 11 (1161a10-1161b10)

  • As Aristotle has said, justice and friendship go hand in hand. He also posits that friendship appears in each of the three types of regimes, depending on the level of justice in each.
  • In a monarchy, a king will extend friendship of superiority by doing good things for his subjects.
  • Fathers offer a similar kind of friendship, though with smaller benefits. In return, children (and subjects) honor their father (ruler).
  • Husbands and wives are like an aristocracy in that—and this is Aristotle speaking here, not us—the better person (i.e. the husband) gets more of what is good and just.
  • Brothers are like comrades or citizens in a timocracy, since they are equals in the household. This relationship is ruled by equity.
  • The same proportion of justice to friendship is found in each deviation of the regimes. Tyrants encourage scant justice and even fewer friendships.
  • Because humanity is degraded in a tyranny, subjects become tools rather than people. Among things there can be no community (since the law doesn't apply to things).
  • And without equity, there can be no friendships. Because oppressed people are still human, some little friendships may rise—but nothing like what happens in a democracy.
  • In a democracy, there's equality and citizens have much in common, so friendships can easily blossom.

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