Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 9, Chapter 3 (1165a36-1165b35)

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Book 9, Chapter 3 (1165a36-1165b35)

  • Should we break up a friendship because our friend has changed? If a person isn't the same cheerful person that we loved, why can't we just get rid of them?
  • Aristotle says that sometimes we mistake the sort of friends we are with someone. We think they're true friends, but really they're fair weather buddies who want us only when we're useful.
  • Aristotle blames us if this is the situation—he doesn't blame the shallow friend. We should have seen it coming.
  • But if the other person (let's call him "The Deceiver") deliberately played you for his BFF, then The Deceiver is a jerk.
  • Do we still have to love a person who was once good but has now become evil? Good one, Aristotle.
  • Our philosopher says it would be better to try to reform this friend, but cutting and running is always a rational option.
  • And what if our friend becomes way more awesome than us? Does he still have to be our friend?
  • According to Aristotle, it depends on how big the difference of awesome is between us and them.
  • If the chasm is too wide, the old friends will have nothing in common.
  • The best we can do is to hang on to our memories and say "I knew him when!"

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