Tag Archives: good vs pleasure

On making friends

Nothing sinks more heavily in your stomach than the realization that someone who you thought liked you really hates you.

More and more, i’m inclined to think that making friends isn’t a matter of chance, or even of preference; it’s a matter of knowing what you want to learn, and recognizing who can help you learn those things.  Does that make friendship utilitarian?  I don’t know, but let’s take a look what Aristotle had to say on the matter:

It seems that not everything is loved, but only what is worthy of love, and this is what is good, pleasant, or useful. What is useful, however, would seem to be what is instrumental to some good or pleasure, so that what are worthy of love as ends are the good and the pleasant.  —Nicomachean Ethics, VIII. ii. p.145

So even if you’re friends with someone because he or she is “instrumental to some good or pleasure,” the end you ultimately strive for is that good or pleasure.  The bottom line is, there is some good or pleasure we desire, and we become friends with those who provide us with it.

Let’s start with the goods.  What kinds of goods do we seek?  Well, obviously they vary from individual to individual, but the one most commonly identified and discussed by philosophers is happiness.  It seems that the “small” goods we seek add up to the “big,” self-sufficient good of happiness.

Then let’s assume that we make friends because they help us attain that good of happiness.  How do my friends make me happy?  Personally, i’m happy when my friends care for me and teach me new things.  Some of my friends don’t do either of these things, and yet i call them “friends.”

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