To get by, we all need a little help from our friends.
But in an age too often marked by superficiality, we often think about whether those we now call “friends” are actually our friends who will be with us in both fair and stormy weather.
Turns out, the people in times past thought about the same thing.
In a famous passage of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle outlined the three main categories of friends:
1) Those who love you because you’re useful to them.
2) Those who love you because your company provides them with pleasure.
3) Those who love you because you’re a good person.
Here’s the passage:
According to Aristotle, only the third is the true friend—the one who values you for your goodness. The others only remain friends with you because of what you do for them. And, as Aristotle points out, once you stop being useful to them, or giving them pleasure, the friendship will most likely dissolve.
Kind of harsh, but as some of us have discovered from experience, there's probably some truth to what Aristotle wrote.
Dan is a former Senior Fellow at Intellectual Takeout. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (MN), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find his academic work at Academia.edu.