Three Types of Friendship in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Service is a key aspect in an individual’s life, It allows one to help serve others without seeking rewards. When one does service one can become a better individual and gain a better appreciation for the people and world one lives in, In this paper I will be discussing the service I completed and how Aristotle’s notions of friendship and character applied to my service. I will touch upon how his notions helped me appreciate the time I spent sewing the community and how to properly execute the tasks I completed during my service.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle mentions three types of friendship He states that, “But those who love each other wish goods to each other [only] insofar as they love each other. Those who love each other for utility love the other not in his own right, but insofar as they gain some good for themselves from him”. Aristotle also mentions a second type of friendship: pleasure, He states that, “The same is true of those who love for pleasure; for they like a witty person not because of his character, but because he is pleasant to them” Aristotle mentions a third type of friendship, one which one should strive to have.

He states, “But complete friendship is the friendship of good people similar in virtue; for they wish goods in the same way to each other insofar as they are good, and they are good in their own right, [Hence they wish goods to each other for each other’s own sake.

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] Now those who wish goods to their friend for the friend’s own sake are friends most of all; for they have this attitude because of the friend himself, not coincidentally” (NE, 1156b5-10)r He goes on to compare the length of each of these friendships saying that friendships of utility and pleasure are, “easily dissolved, when the friends do not remain similar [to what they were]; for if someone is no longer pleasant or useful, the other stops loving him (NE, 1156a20). In contrast, the virtuous friendship, “lasts as long as they are good; and virtue is enduring.

Aristotle goes into mentioning six different kinds of characters First, he mentions what one‘s character consists of; “First, he must know [that he is doing virtuous actions]; second, he must decide on them, and decide on them for themselves; and, third, he must also do them from a firm and unchanging state”. Aristotle starts off with mentioning the godlike and the bestial character. He states that, “The contrary to bestiality is most suitably called virtue superior to us, a heroic, indeed divine, sort of virtue.“ And so, if, as they say, human beings become gods because of exceedingly great virtue, this is clearly the sort of state that would be opposite to the bestial state. For indeed, just as a beast has neither virtue nor vice, so neither does a god, but the god‘s state is more honorable than virtue, and the beast’s belongs to some kind different from vice”. The next types of character are the continent and incontinent characters Aristotle goes on to say that, “The continent person seems to be the same as one who abides by his rational calculation; and the incontinent person seems to be the same as one who abandons it.

The incontinent person knows that his actions are base, but does them because of his feelings, whereas the continent person knows that his appetites are base, but because of reason does not follow them”. The last two types of characters are the vicious or temperate and the vicious or intemperate characters. “For the temperate person is not the sort to have either excessive or base appetites”. “Moreover, the incontinent person is the sort to pursue excessive bodily pleasures against correct reason, but not because he is persuaded [it is best]. The intemperate person, however, is persuaded, because he is the sort of person to pursue them” “But the intemperate person [pursue them because he] also thinks it is right, while the incontinent person does not think so”, The service project that I completed was working the Halloween on campus for the children that live in the areas around The Catholic University of America. During my service, I completed several tasks, such as sewing drinks, cleaning up after the event, and entertaining the children and helping them as they went around to the various activities. During my service I believe that Aristotle’s continent character best represented my thoughts, appetites, and actions while doing my service project. I believe this because I found myself wanting to leave at some points because of the large number of people there and the rain that had begun falling during my service. However, despite my wanting to leave due to the circumstances I stayed and completed my service because I had a commitment to the children and other volunteers to compete my service. IfI had left I would have missed out on meeting new people and helping the children have a good experience I also would have made the other volunteers have to pick up the responsibilities that I would have abandoned which would not have been fair to them.

I am glad that I stayed to complete my service because I was able to create new friendships and deepen existing ones, I found that I established a utility friendship with the children and parents I served and a virtuous friendship with my friends I was completing the service with I feel that I established utility friendships with those whom I served because I was there to help them and be of use to them as they experience the Halloween activities. I was serving their needs and that was strictly is seeing in how I did not connect with them on a personal level, I feel that I established a virtuous friendship with the other volunteers, particularly my friend Lydia. I feel as though in this service we connected in the sense that we have and share the same virtues and love and respect each other for them. We both strived to be the best person and most helpful person we could have been during our service because we wanted to make the experience for the children memorable. Overall, my service allowed me to become a better-rounded individual and allowed me to serve others for the sole purpose of serving, I was able to establish new friendships and deepen current friendships. I gained a better understanding of my appetites and that I am able to make the right choices because I have right reason. I thoroughly enjoyed my service project and would be more than willingly to complete it again,

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Three Types of Friendship in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. (2022, Oct 07). Retrieved from

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