Types of friendship according to Aristotle

Types of friendship according to Aristotle

Types of friendship according to Aristotle

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2022

Aristotle, in his works, has always attributed a special value to friendship. He saw her as a valuable resource and an incentive for a happy life. He also specified that during our life we ​​can find three types of friendship, three types of bonds of which only one can reach a higher form, an exceptional connection far from interest and simple randomness.

As is known, Aristotle was a polymath. The knowledge of him, or rather his wide curiosity, allowed him to acquire a respectable domain in various fields such as logic, science, philosophy ... When we approach works such as Nicomachean Ethics, it is surprising that describe the human being at that time as a highly social creature. He describes us as social animals, which is why friendship undoubtedly supposes the most satisfying form of coexistence.

"Without friends no one would choose to live even if he owned all the other assets."


In his day the sage Stagyrite did not have access to the brain or the possibility of knowing its mysteries, but if there is anything that modern science has been able to show us it is that this organ needs social interaction to develop, survive and enjoy. in turn of adequate health. We are undoubtedly social animals, creatures who need strong bonds with their fellowmen. However, the constraints we should aspire to must be based on a number of pillars. 

The three types of friendship that characterize the human being

We often see classical philosophers as respectable but distant wells of wisdom. It is those voices of yesteryear to be mentioned from time to time for informational purposes, but at the same time we think that much of these millennial legacies have little to do with current needs and characteristics. Nothing further from reality. Not only. In the midst of our existential anxiety it's really nice to be reunited with them to discover authentic lyrics by personal growth.

Nicomachean Ethics is one of them, it is a revealing work on how to achieve happiness and the place that our social relationships occupy in everyday life. For Aristotle friendship is an exchange in which to learn to receive and offer, but far from being conceived as a payment system, we must remember that “it is not noble to be anxious to receive favors, because only the unfortunate need benefactors, and friendship is above all freedom. The most virtuous state of being ”.

On the other hand, Aristotle in his work explains that there are three types of friendship, which somehow we all meet on more than one occasion.

Interested friendship

It is well known that people exploit each other. Some do it more often, others don't conceive it, and few understand friendship in this way: "I maintain a relationship of false friendship with you hoping to get a benefit".

Even if we have one or more friends, we all hope to get something in return: support, trust, build good times, share free time, etc. But there are those who use flattery and la manipulation to achieve higher dimensions: social position, recognition ...

The friendship that seeks only pleasure

This is one of the three types of friendship that are well known to all. It is a type of interaction that usually occurs during adolescence and early youth. Later, as we become more selective, cautious and apply appropriate filters, it is normal to see this friendship as a double-edged sword.

But what is the difference between interested friendship and one that seeks pleasure? In the first case the person seeks to obtain a benefit, be it favors, access to other people, recognition, etc. In the case of this second dimension, what one aspires to is simply "having pleasant moments".

They are people oriented towards that empty and irrelevant hedonism, in which they try to be with others to share moments of relaxation, joyful complicity and pleasant well-being. And as soon as the other person needs sincere support, when a problem arises or when things get complicated, the false friend vanishes into thin air, like a lump of sugar in a cup of coffee.

Friendship for Aristotle consists in wanting and procuring the good of the friend, while fostering our individual satisfaction in taking care of that special bond.

The perfect friendship

Among the three types of friendship defined by Aristotle there is also the ideal one, the most solid, the most exceptional and, nevertheless, possible. That in which in addition to usefulness or pleasure there is a sincere appreciation for the other as he is. There is a kind of altruism in this bond where you don't try to take advantage, where you just want to share good times, everyday life, and also be that permanent point of reference to turn to for support.

It is friendship based on goodness, what Aristotle described almost as a couple relationship. Because perfect friends after all, friends of the heart are very few, scarce, they are those references with which to build a sense of intimacy very deep, in which we hope not to be betrayed, where we treasure experiences, memories and promises that time or distance cannot destroy.

Finally, moMany of us probably have all three types of friendship described by Aristotle right now: people who want something from us, friends who seek us only to share moments of fun and exceptional people who stay even during storms and storms. Friends we wouldn't change for the world and who make this life a more relaxed and interesting journey.

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