Friendship, Politics, and the Good in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Books VIII and IX provide A philosophic examination of friendship. While these Books initially appear to be non sequiturs in the inquiry, a closer examination of the questions raised by the preceding Books and consideration of the discussion of friendship's position between two accounts of pleasure in Books VII and X indicate friendship's central role in the Ethics. In friendship, Aristotle finds a uniquely human capacity that helps readers understand the good is distinct from pleasure by leading them to think seriously about what they can hold in common with their friends throughout their lives without ... continued below

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Pascarella, John Antonio May 2015.

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  • Pascarella, John Antonio

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In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Books VIII and IX provide A philosophic examination of friendship. While these Books initially appear to be non sequiturs in the inquiry, a closer examination of the questions raised by the preceding Books and consideration of the discussion of friendship's position between two accounts of pleasure in Books VII and X indicate friendship's central role in the Ethics. In friendship, Aristotle finds a uniquely human capacity that helps readers understand the good is distinct from pleasure by leading them to think seriously about what they can hold in common with their friends throughout their lives without changing who they are. What emerges from Aristotle's account of friendship is a nuanced portrait of human nature that recognizes the authoritative place of the intellect in human beings and how its ability to think about an end and hold its thinking in relation to that end depends upon whether it orders or is ordered by pleasures and pains. Aristotle lays the groundwork for this conclusion throughout the Ethics by gradually disclosing pleasures and pains are not caused solely by things we feel through the senses, but by reasoned arguments and ideas as well. Through this insight, we can begin to understand how Aristotle's Ethics is a work of political philosophy; to fully appreciate the significance of his approach, however, we must contrast his work with that of Thomas Hobbes, his harshest Modern critic. Unlike Aristotle, Hobbes is nearly silent on friendship in his political philosophy, and examining his political works especially Leviathan reveals the absence of friendship is part of his deliberate attempt to advance a politics founded on the moral teaching that pleasure is the good. Aristotle's political philosophy, by way of contrast, aims to preserve the good, and through friendship, he not only disentangles the good from pleasure, but shows a level of human community more suitable for preserving the good than political regimes because these communities have more natural bonds than any regime can hope to create between its citizens.

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  • May 2015

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  • Feb. 9, 2016, 4:37 p.m.

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  • March 28, 2017, 10:07 a.m.

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Pascarella, John Antonio. Friendship, Politics, and the Good in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, dissertation, May 2015; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc801900/: accessed August 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .