Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 8, Chapter 7 (1158b12-1159a13)

By Aristotle

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Book 8, Chapter 7 (1158b12-1159a13)

  • There are unequal friendships out there: father/son, husband/wife, ruler/subject. These are friendships based on superiority.
  • Each of these and their reciprocal (i.e. husband to wife, wife to husband) are different because they involve different virtues and roles.
  • Each person in these friendships gets something different out of the relationship. But when each gives what they ought to, there's a kind of equity and stability.
  • The affection given and received should also be proportionate. Of course, the superior person deserves more of everything.
  • Equality in these relationships depends on different variables than we use to understand equality as it relates to justice.
  • For friendship, we first have to consider the degree of superiority (by how much the person is superior to his friend) and then merit.
  • Degree of superiority separation might make it impossible for certain people to be friends. A king cannot really be friends with a peasant, for instance.
  • Aristotle says that this is why even good people don't wish for the very best thing to happen to their friends—like becoming a god.
  • Deification would probably end the friendship.

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