Utility, Pleasure, and Virtue: 3 Types of Friendship Identified by Aristotle

Ethics to Nicomachus, written by Aristotle, who is described as the Plato of the ancient philosophy and stands out as the most important philosopher of his period, dedicated to one of his sons, Nicomachus, is based on the idea that pleasure is basically the activity that completes a good life (enerigeia ) and what is good. It is a masterpiece that stands out with the argument that it should be grounded for a purpose. In line with his emphasis on the fact that human beings are an extremely social species, Aristotle drew attention to the fact that living together is possible with the bonds established between individuals, and focused on the concept of friendship and examined the concept under three main headings. Let us take you down if you want to take a look at these three categories that you will not have difficulty in identifying with yourself, destroying the perception that the philosophers of the First and Ancient Ages were positioned far from society and daily life.




1) Friendship of Utility

Relationships based on mutual interests of the parties. You can think of your coworkers or classmates as examples. Well, after all, having a bad accompanist is better than none. If you subject those around you to a friendship rating, you will notice that this category also applies to yours.



It is not necessary for you to think of it only as a conflict of interest. When you want to go to the gym, call your neighbor you already know you want to start with, or people you continue to follow even if you see their pictures on Instagram and pass without liking them are also included in this type. According to Aristotle, although this type of friendship is not completely bad, it will end if the interests of even one of the two parties are exhausted, and in this respect it is temporary.


2) Friendship of Pleasure

This category includes friends you keep seeing because you have common hobbies or pleasures and enjoy the time you spend together. The difference of this type of friendship from the one for the benefit is that in the former there is an interest, while in the latter the only interest mentioned is to have a good time . When you think about how boring those years would be without your college friends, you realize how precious all those times you spent together and made good memories were. On the other hand, you can’t say you’re still seeing them all, can you? The reason for this is that everyone needs companions with whom they have common tastes, share their thoughts and are with them in the same environment at the same time . On the other hand, friendships established for pleasure are bound to fade after a while, in case of a change in environment or when better alternatives are encountered.



While Aristotle characterizes friendships for pleasure and benefit as accidental, he underlines in Ethics to Nicomachus that if one party no longer gives pleasure and is no longer useful, they can easily be broken. Also, older people often form friendships for benefit, and younger people for pleasure, according to Aristotle. The philosopher explains this as follows: Old people may not always be satisfied with the person in front of them, on the other hand, they do not spoil their friendship because they need a person to accompany them. Young people, governed by their emotions, seek the most joyful thing in the shortest amount of time. They fall in love very quickly, get hurt very quickly, get sad, angry and forget very quickly.


3) Friendship of the Good

It is the ideal of the three types of friendship described by Aristotle. It is the most concrete and rarest species. It is a friendship that transcends benefit and pleasure and is based on accepting and appreciating the other person as they are. Valuing without seeking a benefit is basically being a shoulder to lean on in difficult times as well as having a good time together. It is based on virtue, and Aristotle likens this type of friendship to a romantic relationship. Because the real friendships mentioned are as rare as love and are not based on any interest.



These friends with whom you share memories, firsts, happiness and sadness will not be able to separate you in time or distance. This genre, which is few in number in your life and which points to the bond you have established with your friends as you read these lines, is the most important and most permanent of the three.

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