Nicomachean Ethics Essay

1437 words - 6 pages

Aristotle writes the Nicomachean Ethics in an attempt to express his views on how men should best live their lives. Aristotle states that friendship is a true virtue, and something that is worth focusing on to achieve happiness, and a good soul. He believes that friendship is “most necessary for our life” (Aristotle 30). Aristotle spends the majority of his Nicomachean Ethics focusing on friendship as opposed to other virtues, such as intellect, justice, fairness, and magnanimity. He views friendship highly and places it above all other virtues. In Aesop’s fable, “The Friends and the Bear”, two men do not exhibit the same values that Aristotle so devotedly describes must be evident in a ...view middle of the document...

Although the bear is the attacker, she teaches the man playing dead that his friend is not truly a friend. If the bear attack had never occurred, the man would still allow his trust to be in the hands of an unworthy friend. When asked what the bear told the man, he replies, “…she gave me some quite important advice” (Aesop). Through the life threatening experience he learns that his friend cannot be trusted. A true friend is someone who a person goes through experiences with, not necessary the most convenient person. Perhaps if the man had wisely chosen his acquaintance to accompany him, he would not have been left alone to fend off a hungry bear. Aristotle preaches that with friendship comes a trust that needs to exist between the two men for the relationship to be successful. He questions, “Do people love what is good, or what is good for them?”(Aristotle 31). The first man may have been blinded by the friend’s willingness to be there to protect him, as many people are deceived by a person’s true intentions. The second man who ran to the tree could have sought out his friend in order to ensure protection for himself with no intention of returning the favor. The second man, thinking his friends company protected him, had no idea that in the face of danger, his so-called friend had no intention of saving him. Aristotle would frown upon this because the man had a false hope and trust in his friend.
Cicero has a different idea of friendship compared to the views transcribed in Aesop’s fable. Cicero writes the story of Laelius, reminiscing about fond memories of his recently deceased friend Scipio Africanus. Everything that Laelius describes about his friendship with Scipio implicates that he fondly looks back upon his friendship, and is something that he says will never be forgotten. Laelius writes, “the joy I gain from looking back upon our friendship cause me to conclude that my life has been rich and good” (Cicero 71). Aristotle would approve of the relationship being described because he believed that for friends to remain in a successful friendship, “they must have goodwill to each other” (Aristotle 32). Laelius and Scipio both wanted the best for each other and benefited from the relationship they had between them. Cicero and Aristotle disagree with the type of friendship described in Aesop’s fable because the men do not devote themselves to caring for each other and selflessly supporting the other. Neither man is benefiting from continuing a relationship with the other, and they do not enrich each other’s lives in a positive way, worthy of friendship. The lesson that the man attacked by the bear learns is in accordance with the beliefs of Aristotle and Cicero. Once discovering that his friend is not trustworthy and does not fit the characteristics described by Cicero and Aristotle, the man is smart enough to recall his trust and reevaluate his current friendship.
The motives of two men involved in a friendship should be transparent and...

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