Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 9, Chapter 4 (1166a1-1166b29)

By Aristotle

Book 9, Chapter 4 (1166a1-1166b29)

  • Aristotle says that a mother exhibits all the signs of friendship toward her children: she wishes the best for them and does everything good for them.
  • A friend is also someone who shares our lives and likes many of the same things.
  • This is also a lot like how a good person feels about himself. He certainly wishes the best for himself and does good things for himself. He does all this to honor his rational soul.
  • A good person is a good friend to himself, never wishing even to be a more fortunate person or other than he is.
  • The friend is second self. So in order to be a good friend to others, we have first to be a good friend to ourselves. Cliché, yes. But Aristotle started this whole thing.
  • But don't corrupt people also love themselves lots and take pleasure in their wicked ways? Aristotle denies that such people live harmoniously with themselves.
  • Therefore, they can't really have the quality of true friendship with others.
  • Seriously evil people also hate themselves and try to escape their own company as much as possible.
  • They have nothing lovable about them, so it's really hard for them to find something to love about themselves. Harsh.
  • Also, a corrupt person is totally miserable, getting no pleasure that isn't followed by regret. Aristotle's advice? Stop being a wicked person and you'll have more friends.