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Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle

Book IX

Book VIII

Book IX, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary

In friendships or exchanges where each person receives a different benefit, it is important that both parties feel they are being justly treated. The best method is to fix a price in advance, though some forms of benevolence cannot properly be repaid. In cases of dispute, the recipient of a service should determine its value. While it is important to show preference to one’s friends, one should not do so in place of meeting obligations to others.

Friendships based on utility or pleasure dissolve when the friends no longer find utility or pleasure in one another. These breakups are made more complicated when people are misled into thinking they are loved for their character and not for certain incidental attributes. It may also be necessary to break off a friendship with someone who initially misrepresented the kind of person he or she really is. Friends who grow apart cannot remain friends, though they should hold on to some consideration for the former friendship.

The feelings we have for our friends are the same as we have for ourselves. For instance, a good friend wishes good things for his or her friend, enjoys that friend’s company, and shares personal joys and sorrows. This can also be said of our relationship with ourselves, even in the case of bad people, who treat both themselves and their friends poorly.

We feel goodwill toward a person in whom we perceive some merit or goodness, but this feeling is different from friendship or even affection, because it is superficial and not necessarily requited. Concord is a form of friendly feeling that exists between friends or within a state when people have the same ends in view.

Benefactors seem to love those whom they have benefited more than the beneficiaries love in return. This love is like the love of an artist for his or her work, because the benefactor is to some extent responsible for “making” the beneficiary. It is also more pleasurable to do good actively than to receive good passively.

Those who denigrate self-love are thinking of people who seek the greatest honors and pleasures only for themselves. A good person who is self-loving will seek only what is best for himself or herself, which will be consistent with what is best for all. A good person will do seemingly unselfish acts, such as taking risks for friends or giving away money, but will do these things because they are noble and are motivated by self-love.

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objection

by ProfessorHinkley, April 06, 2014

The author of this commentary claims that Aristotle's "concept of distributive justice is meant to ensure that the greatest privilege go to those male aristocrats who exhibit the greatest virtue rather than to those who have the greatest wealth, the greatest military strength, or the most friends." This claim is superficial and grossly misleading. We need to approach books by trying to understand them as the author understands them, and in this case Aristotle articulates a principle of justice, called merit, that transcends gender and socia

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7 out of 11 people found this helpful

Good Article

by m8292, September 30, 2014

Thanks for the good article.
To the previous poster: Can you explain where you see that Aristotle's principle is meant by the author to transcend gender etc.? I am especially confused by this because you state that we should not read the book as it might be interpreted, but as the author intended it to be interpreted (if I got you right). Doesn't it seem highly unlikely that someone like Aristotle would include anyone but citizens of the polis in his considerations? Do you have any citation that would support Aristotle including women ... Read more

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9 out of 9 people found this helpful

Exam

by arclexico, February 23, 2015

Thank you Sparknotes for your great and concise articles. I got 95/100 on my exam.

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