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Now it is very apparent that man is a social animal by nature who constantly wants to live in the company of others. This then translates into forming bonds or relationships with other people that we find interesting, desirable, etc. So, what do these associations say about who we are? What does it mean that as humans we naturally feel the need to surround ourselves with others like us? Well, Aristotle takes these questions into consideration when addressing the different types of friendships.

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There are 3 kinds according to his teachings. First, there are friendships of utility, which exist between you and someone who is useful to you in some way. For example, perhaps you are friends with someone who has lots of money but does share your interests at heart. This relationship could be truer in nature but it’s not and instead of caring about this person you are using them for their money and the things that you get from the relationship. The next type of friend is the friend of pleasure. These friendships are between people that you achieve some sort of pleasure out of without doing anything else. A lot of the time you and this friend enjoy the same activities and that’s all you do and do not dive into anything else like ideas and thoughts. After this, we have the final kind of friendship, the friend of good. This is the friend that you share thoughts and ideas with, the friend that tells you the truth despite the nature of the conversation. In a way, this friend shares a common duty to tell you the truth and share information that can only help you despite the possibility of anger. Aristotle states “Between friends, there is no need for justice, but people who are just still need the quality of friendship; and indeed, friendliness is considered to be justice in the fullest sense. It is not only a necessary thing but a splendid one” (Book VIII, Chapter 1). In Aristotle’s mind justice is an idea of fair exchange and then justice in friendship is the same. Friendships become balanced by friends giving as much as they receive.

I find it easy to distinguish between true friends, and people that you just revolve around that some might call your friends. In the same way, Aristotle states that true friendship doesn’t revolve around favors and who has how many favors to give. When you are constantly keeping track your relationships become more of a utility obviously, but what I find interesting is the negative appeal that is often associated with this category. For many people, their lives are too busy, hectic, and organized to have a friendship that isn’t dictated by rules. Those rules are the limiter to a true friendship by arterioles standards. So, in this case, these people with utility friendships don’t have true friends but what if both parties realize this? In my mind a friendship is ‘fake’ when one party is in the dark about the true nature of the relationship, but what if both parties of the utility friendship recognized what was happening? They both want the same use and therefore no longer need to distinguish rules, does that make it a ‘true friendship’? This understanding relates back to another aspect of Aristotle’s thinking where he discusses the relations between two people and how those relations are often found in ‘solid’ friendships. Obviously, you have to have some things in common with another person to really have any relation. These relations can change how sound a friendship really is. In one direction you could say that too much relation becomes friendships of pleasure; where both of you are so similar that you are just complementing each other all the time. This is negative in my mind because there is no real discussion in the relationship, just back-and-forth pleasure. Then on the other end of the spectrum, there is too little in common; where you only have one thing to talk about and then that gets old and often turns into hatred. The ‘friendship sweet spot’ is right in the middle of these too, and oftentimes is very subjective. Depending on each person’s needs and wants the friendship either needs to have a lot in common to satisfy each other’s similar interests and keep the conversation going, or they need to be interested in the same topics but have very different views. From personal experience, I find that friendships that involve a lot of controversial opinions being shared and criticized are often the best ones. These friends often aren’t afraid to tell you when you are wrong and never just conform to your thinking to continue the relationship.

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Essay Definition of True Friendship.
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