Review of Metaphysics 30 (4):619 - 648 (1977)

NEITHER in the scholarly nor in the philosophical literature on Aristotle does his account of friendship occupy a very prominent place. I suppose this is partly, though certainly not wholly, to be explained by the fact that the modern ethical theories with which Aristotle’s might demand comparison hardly make room for the discussion of any parallel phenomenon. Whatever else friendship is, it is, at least typically, a personal relationship freely, even spontaneously, entered into, and ethics, as modern theorists tend to conceive it, deals rather with the ways in which people are required to regard, and behave toward, one another, than with the organization of their private affairs. To the extent, then, that one shares this modern outlook one will tend to neglect, or treat merely as an historical curiosity, Aristotle’s efforts to define friendship and to place it within the framework of human eudaimonia, the theory of which is central to moral philosophy as he understands it. Yet in the Nicomachean Ethics the two books on φιλία make up nearly a fifth of the whole, and this seems to me a fair measure of the importance of this subject to the complete understanding both of Aristotle’s overall moral theory and even of many of the more circumscribed topics to which so much scholarly and philosophical attention has been devoted. If, as I suggest, the failure of commentators to appreciate its importance is partly the effect of distortions produced by the moral outlook that has predominated in modern moral philosophy, the careful study of these books may help to free us from constricting prejudices and perhaps even make it possible to discover in Aristotle a plausible and suggestive alternative to the theories constructed on the narrower base characteristic of recent times.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph197730450
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,975
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Friendship and the Structure of Trust.Mark Alfano - 2016 - In Alberto Masala & Jonathan Webber (eds.), From Personality to Virtue. Oxford University Press. pp. 186-206.
Love.Bennett W. Helm - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Civility in the Post-Truth Age: An Aristotelian Account.Maria Silvia Vaccarezza & Michel Croce - 2021 - Humana.Mente - Journal of Philosophical Studies 39 (39):127-150.

View all 47 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Civic Friendship and Thin Citizenship.R. K. Bentley - 2013 - Res Publica 19 (1):5-19.
The Advantages of Civic Friendship.Joyce L. Jenkins - 1999 - Journal of Philosophical Research 24:459-471.
Why Virtual Friendship is No Genuine Friendship.Barbro Fröding & Martin Peterson - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (3):201-207.
Confucius and Aristotle on the Goods of Friendship.Eric C. Mullis - 2010 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9 (4):391-405.
Circles, Ladders and Stars: Nietzsche on Friendship.Ruth Abbey - 1999 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 2 (4):50-73.
Confucius and Aristotle on Friendship: A Comparative Study. [REVIEW]Yuanguo He - 2007 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 2 (2):291-307.
Aristotle on Self-Knowledge and Friendship.Zena Hitz - 2011 - Philosophers' Imprint 11:1-28.


Added to PP index

Total views
325 ( #31,463 of 2,498,264 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
22 ( #39,112 of 2,498,264 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes