ARISTOTLE VIS-À-VIS MODERN DAY CONCEPTION OF FRIENDSHIP
Quite a number of things are fanciful to human being; wealth, prestige,
power, good health and host of others. However, all these things make more
meaning only when shared with others. Therefore, friends are “sine qua non”
to human existence. It is on this ground that Aristotle would say, “for man is
a social being, and designed by nature to live with others”.1 Every human being needs the other to
live a fulfilled life. No man is an Island. No man can boast of living well in
a place alone, he needs the other person.
As regards friendship, there are different
conceptions as there are scholars who philosophize on that. Each expresses his
or her own notion of friendship. Though there are different notions among
scholars about friendship, most of the differences perhaps are as a result of
cultural differences and background.
It is an obvious fact that not all types of
friendship seek to the development of both the individual and the entire
society. This, I believe is the major fact why friendship as a term has been
misconstrued and misconceived. Sequel to this, some regard friendship as a
thing to be avoided because of the negative connotations that often go with it.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
Over the years, people (including philosophers) have looked at the
concept of friendship from various perspectives. Such people include Plato,
Cicero, Epicureans, Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Aristotle, etc., each of
these philosophers has his view of friendship.
However, the purpose of this work is to discuss how modern day people
understand friendship using Aristotle’s conception of friendship as a paradigm.
This work will investigate why people make friends. In the same vein, it has as
its purpose to find out whether friendship is intrinsically good or bad.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
In spite of the fact that friendship is a “sine qua non” to human
existence, it has over the years passed through different hardships. Even the
early Greeks and Romans were victims of this. Thus Aristotle laments over the
failure of friendship with, “O my friend, there is no friend”.2 Empedocles on his side, contrasts
friendship with strife. This motivated Aristotle to exalt friendship in his
The Stoics and Cynics place friendship upon the most complete
“abundance” and generosity of spirit. For the Christian writers, friendship is
synonymous with love. This love must be grounded in God and thus spurs one to
channel the same love to another person.
On the other hand, the decline of friendship to its lowest level came in
the modern day. Among the modern people, there is too much exultation of
romantic love as friendship. Others see friendship as a business where one sees
profit making as the primary aim.
With this in mind, friendship, like a rolling stone that carries a lot
of dust, carries to itself many negative connotations. This makes people to
regard friendship as something to be avoided. They see it as something that is
METHOD OF RESEARCH.
The method applied in this research is mainly expository. It is
expository because it shows in great detail what friendship was in the olden
days. Also it exposes what is obtainable now as friendship with its benefits,
problems and possible solutions.
SCOPE OF THE WORK.
Since time immemorial, one of the problems of human beings is how to
relate well with people around him. There
is an innate derive in human beings that pulls them together. Each of
them has his or her unique way of behaviour. But the problem remains, how can
people of different behaviour, culture, belief, etc., relate? It is to tackle
this problem that motivated several scholars and leaders of thought to have
various speculations on friendship. Among these scholars is a Greek
Aristotle’s conception of friendship seems to be more famous than that
of other philosophers. Therefore, the limitation of this work will be on how
the modern people conceive friendship, bearing Aristotle’s conception in mind.
This is whether or not the modern day conception of friendship is in line with
that of Aristotle.
DIVISION OF WORK
This work is divided into five chapters for easy grasping. Chapter one
is the general introduction, purpose of study, statement of problem, method of
research, scope of the work and division of work. In chapter two, the
researcher gives an overview of some philosophers’ view on friendship. Chapter
three is the heart of the work. It treats both the Aristotelian conception and
modern day conception of friendship. Chapter four handles the importance of
friendship, the problems of friendship and possible solution to the problems of
friendship. Finally, chapter five sums up the research by evaluating and
summarizing the whole work.
1 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Translated with
introduction and notes by Martin Ostwald, (The bobs – Merrill
Company Inc., 1962). IX, ix, 1169a, 3.
2 R. White, “Friendship: Ancient and modern”(,
International philosophical quarterly,
vol. Xxxix,) no. 1.