The philosophers Aristotle and Montaigne have both analyzed the topic of friendship. ln Aristotle‘s Nicomachean Ethics and Montaigne‘s Essay of Michel de Montaigne, they have devised differing ideals on the meaning of true friendship The contrasting views are most evident in two ways; how the philosophers describe as the qualities of a true friend and what a true friendship feels like. Main piece of Aristotle’s definition of a true friend is the qualities that the friend possesses. In his writing, he focuses on the virtue of the two people in the friendship as he says, “but the complete sort of friendship is that between people who are good and alike and virtue, since they wish for good things for one another in the same way insofar as they are good, and they are good in themselves” (Aristotle 147).
The defining pan of Aristotle’s view of true friendship is that it can only be between two virtuous people. He believes that being virtuous is required for a balanced friendship and thus allows the relationship to last for a long period of time.
Montaigne disagrees with Aristotle on the vitality of virtue in true friendship.
Instead, he believes that true friendship can occur between people as long as they are very similar. This allows the two people to get along so well as he describes, “in the friendship, I speak of, our souls mingle and blend with each other so completely that they efface the seam that joined them, and cannot find it again” (Montaigne 5).
Montaigne’s definition does exclude several people from being true friends. The main example he uses in his essay is that true friendship cannot form between members of the opposite sex because sexual desire will always cause a problem in the relationship. Despite the large differences between the two, there are a few similarities between the ideals of the two philosophers. They both believe that true friendships are exceedingly rare and there are cases that it cannot form, such as between a parent and child or ruler and subjects.
Overall though, Aristotle’s Views focus more on the qualities of the person, while Montaigne places higher value on the two individuals actually in the friendship. Another difference between Aristotle and Montaigne‘s views are their descriptions of what true friendship feels like According to Aristotle, true friendship has ration explanation for why the two people care so much for each other, He reasons that people love what is good for them as he says, “so each of them loves what is good for himself, and also gives back and equal amount in return in wish well as in what is pleasant; for it is said the “friendship is equal relationship,” and this belongs most of all to the friendships of the good” (Aristotle 150) In his opinion this balanced relationship between to Virtuous people is beneficial for both and that explains why they are friends One problem this creates, is that Aristotle believes true friendship does not last forever, as it can be broken if one of the friends becomes less virtuous, as the relationship would no longer be balanced Montaigne on the other hand, argues that there is something more.
Using his own experience as an example, Montaigne describes his true friendship as, “beyond all my understanding, beyond what I can say about this in panjcular, there was I know not what inexplicable and fateful force that was the mediator of this union” (Montaigne 5). He does not believe that friendship is completely rational and that the irrational side he describes is actually very similar to how people often describe love, Montaigne reasons that this bit of “magic” in friendship is part of being human. Between the two philosophers, this makes Montaigne’s view more appealing to most people as it is a long lasting, unexplainable experience of affection that people crave. Aristotle and Montaigne described contrasting ideas on true friendship in their writings Nicomachean Ethics and Essay of Michel de Montaigne. Aristotle’s view is a more strict and rational take on friendship which is dependent on the Virtue of the two people, Montaigne instead describes an irrational experience close to love where two people are so close that their souls mingle together. Though they contrast, they both raise interesting ideas on the experience of friendship in their exploration of this topic that is typically overlooked by other authors and philosophers.