Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 8, Chapter 12 (1161b11-1162a34)

By Aristotle

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Book 8, Chapter 12 (1161b11-1162a34)

  • Aristotle turns to friendship in families.
  • Parents love their children because, well, they're theirs. Children love parents because they know that's where they came from.
  • Parents' love is greater because they understand that the children are theirs. Mothers are more loving than fathers because they, too, are more sure that the children belong to them.
  • Love for children is love for self, since parents see children as part of themselves.
  • Brothers love each other because of their likenesses and what they share. They're like comrades because they get into stuff together and learn to trust each other when they don't snitch.
  • The friendship of children with parents is one of superiority, rather than equality. The parents are the superior ones (just in case you missed it).
  • Aristotle says that humans like to "couple up" so marital friendship is most natural for them. Couples are also proto-communities—an older, smaller version of a city.
  • In marriage, we not only have children but also live our lives, sharing the burden of caring for self, house, and family.
  • The marital friendship is kind of super, because it has in it both pleasant and useful aspects. It's extra super great when the couple is virtuous.

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