Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 8, Chapter 6 (1158a1-1158b11)

By Aristotle

Book 8, Chapter 6 (1158a1-1158b11)

  • Young people make friends quickly, but it's mostly good will rather than complete friendship that happens in such cases.
  • We have to invest a lot of time and affection in a true friendship, so it's not possible to have lots of this type of friend at once.
  • It's easier to engage in relationships that are merely useful or pleasant. On the upside, "pleasant" friendships are more like proper friendships.
  • They at least have the "delight in each other" part down—and these kinds of friends may even have things in common.
  • Also, pleasant friends are necessary even to the fortunate, who certainly do not need useful friends.
  • People in power tend to go for the useful and pleasant friendships. Aristotle quips that their friends are often not both at the same time.
  • They surround themselves with the witty and snarky, but rarely with truly good people.
  • Aristotle addresses the need for equality in a friendship. A good person and a powerful person aren't usually friends—unless the powerful one is also virtuous. This almost never happens.
  • Equality in friendship also involves how each person loves the other and wishes them well. If one party isn't equally good, he must bring something else to the relationship.
  • These types of friendships walk the line between faux friendship and complete friendship. They aren't as stable in the face of challenges as complete friendship.