“Ethics Book 9” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Easy there, sandals.

“Ethics Book 9” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Ch. 1

  • Relationships between unequals get compensated in one way or another to preserve the relationship
    • Craftsmen receive money for their work in proportion to its value to the buyer & seller
    • Lovers complain that love isn’t returned equally or that the amount of love isn’t the same as before
      • This will reflect a relationship going from equals to unequals & becoming a utility-based relationship where only one values the other based on what he can get from her
  • Where do the values of exchange come from in commerce?
    • Some givers will allow the receiver to decide what to give
    • Those who receive first & give nothing back complain of being ripped off
    • When there’s no contract, those who renege or underdeliver on promises can’t be complained about especially if value is hard to determine or subjective
  • Typically the law enforces promises based on the terms set by the provider, & the receiver will either accept or reject them

Ch. 2

  • Should one always obey one’s father, trust one’s doctor, elect good politicians, do favors for friends or show appreciation to one’s benefactors?
    • Mostly, but only when appropriate
    • Debts should be pain but not excessively because it might not be fair to do so
      • It depends on purpose & if bad, we should refuse
  • What we give to friends, family, benefactors should be appropriate to each one
    • Invite family to weddings & funerals because they play such a large role in our coming into existence
    • If food, we should feed our parents because they fed us
  • Not every honor goes to parents, just the appropriate ones [father’s honor ≠ mother’s honor]
    • Shouldn’t be the same as a general or a philosopher
    • Older people should be offered a seat or help
    • Brothers & comrades should allow each other freedom of speech & common use of all things
    • Kinsmen & fellow citizens deserves what’s appropriate to them

Ch. 3

  • Should we break off friendships when someone changes?
    • It’s not unusual to do with friendships of utility or pleasure because those are the only reasons these relationships even exist & now they’re gone
    • It might be bad if someone claimed to love you for who you are, when in reality, they were only using you
    • Most complaints in friendships of utility, not in spirit
      • The deceiver is the one to blame, when the false impression of the relationship is given either by lying to another or lying to oneself
  • If you see a man as good & he ends up being bad, do you still have to love him?
    • No because it’s wrong to love what is evil
    • It’s OK to try to maintain the relationship if you believe that his evil is curable & you can help, otherwise you must end it
  • If a man became more virtuous than a friend, the the relationship cannot last because one has grown in virtue & the other is in some sense a child
    • Unless he thinks he can improve his friend

Ch. 4

  • Being friendly with neighbors & friend-material are the marks based on a man’s relationship with himself
    • A friend is one who wishes or does good for a friend for the friend’s sake
    • One who wishes his friend to exist & live for the friend’s own sake
    • Others define him as one who lives with & shares tastes with another
    • One who grieves & rejoices with his friend
      • All of these traits are shared by friends & mothers
  • These are true of a good man’s relationship with himself because he wishes to live well with himself & has hopes for a good future
    • His mind is contemplative, & he grieves & rejoices (always at the same things) with himself & has nothing to repent
  • These characteristics belong to a good man towards himself as well as towards others since friendship is a virtue
    • An extreme form of friendship is like a man’s love for himself
  • If most men have these qualities, what makes them good?
    • Bad & impious men don’t have them & don’t even appear to have them
    • Inferior men, who are at odds with themselves & have appetites for some things & rational desires for others, don’t have them
      • True with incontinent men who choose things they know aren’t good
      • Wicked men seek to corrupt men away from these qualities
    • Bad men confuse pleasure & pain, & are laden with repentance because of that
      • They aren’t even amicably disposed with themselves because there’s nothing to love
        • This is the height of wretchedness & is to be avoided at all costs

Ch. 5

  • Goodwill is a friendly relation but not identical to friendship
    • You can have goodwill to strangers but you can’t be friends with them
  • It isn’t a friendly feeling either because there’s no intensity or desire which is indicative only of friendship
    • Friendship implies intimacy but goodwill can be felt towards others without actually doing anything with them – purely superficial
  • Goodwill is the beginning of a friendship like pleasure of the eye is the beginning of love
    • You don’t fall in love without delight
    • You don’t make friends unless there’s good will
    • You can consider it an inactive friendship
      • If prolonged & turning intimate, it can turn into a friendship – but not of pleasure or utility
      • Goodwill in these cases is only insofar as you owe them to a benefactor or beneficiary
    • Goodwill must be a genuine wish for prosperity in the other person for his own sake
    • Only then can a friendship form

Ch. 6

  • Unanimity is a friendly relation – not an identity of opinion because it can happen between strangers
    • It refers to an agreement on what’s to be done about matters of consequence, not general opinions
    • A city is unanimous when all citizens think its offices should be elected or an alliance is to be formed, etc.
    • Factions are when parties have the same end goals but may not agree on how to achieve them
  • Unanimity is a political friendship because it concerns things in our interests & have influence in our lives
    • Found among good men because they’re unanimous in themselves & with each other, being of 1 mind, they wish for what’s just & advantageous for themselves & others – objects of common endeavor
  • Bad men can’t be unanimous because they’re only seeking an advantage for themselves at the expense of others
    • They can only form factions, compelling one another but outside of doing what’s just

Ch. 7

  • Benefactors are said to love their beneficiaries more than the beneficiaries love their benefactors – paradoxical?
    • Like the former are creditors & the latter are debtors, debtors often wish creditors would just disappear but creditors wish for the safety of their debtors because they want their money back – not a friendship or love
      • Those who have done a service towards others feels a friendship & love towards those they’ve helped, even though they have no use for them & never will
  • Craftsmen & poets have a love for their creations almost as if they are their children
    • The benefactor is similar because beneficiaries are their handiwork & they love them
      • To all men, existence is a thing to be chosen & we exist by virtue of activity & their handiwork is the product of activity & represents the creator’s existence
      • The agent delights in the action but the recipient doesn’t see much noble in the agent & it’s less enjoyable to him
    • For craftsmen & poets, the product of their noble actions remain in physical or word form but for the benefactor, the utility of his actions slips away & all that remains is a memory
  • Love is an activity & being loved is a passivity
    • Men love what they’ve won through hard labor much more than what’s been given to them
      • This is why mothers love their children more than fathers do – because it was through pains that the children are theirs

Ch. 8

  • Should you love yourself most? Or someone else?
    • “Self-lovers” are criticized as disgraceful & bad men who are out only for themselves – the more they love themselves, the more wicked
    • Good men are seen to act for honor’s sake & friends’ sake & often sacrifice their own interests
    • NOT TRUE!!
    • You ought to love your best friends, the one you wish well for his own sake
      • This is true of yourself as well as any other
    • Those who give preference to themselves are seen as bad but we think good men think constantly about their own just behavior
    • His own sense of justice reigns supreme – obeying the authoritative elements within
      • Doesn’t sound very evil
      • Having self-control & following the rational part of the soul is good & praiseworthy – following the irrational side is bad
  • Therefore a good man should be a love of himself & a follower of reason, while the wicked man is not
    • Wicked men will hurt themselves & neighbors by following evil passions, clashing against what he ought to do
    • Good men do many acts for friends & country – may even die for them
      • May give up his wealth, honors & life, getting nobility in return – the highest of all praiseworthy acts
      • A short life of great acts & intense pleasure is better than a long one of mild pleasure & trivial acts

Ch. 9

  • Do happy men need friends?
    • Some say supremely happy men already have everything & don’t need anything more
      • But if friends are good, happy men should already have them
      • To perform just/good acts, you’ll need to do them for other people & they can’t all be strangers
      • It’d be strange if solitary men were happy because people are social creatures & need to live with others
  • Happy men don’t need friends out of utility or pleasantness because they already have what’s useful & pleasant
  • Happiness is an activity – it comes into being & isn’t just present at the start, like property is
    • If:
      • Happiness is in living & being active, & a good man’s activity is virtuous & pleasant,
      • At hings being one’s own is an attribute of it being pleasant,
      • We can contemplate our neighbors & their actions better than ourselves & our own actions,
      • The actions of virtuous men who are their friends are pleasant to good men
    • Then, a happy man will need this sort of qualities in friends because his purpose is to contemplate & perform acts & he needs those friends to guide & help him choose & act
  • A happy man ought to live pleasantly, which is difficult to do alone because it’s hard to remain continuously active without others
    • Training in virtue arise from the company of the good
  • A virtuous friend is naturally desirable because they’re virtuous & pleasant
    • Life is the act of perceiving & thinking
    • A virtuous life requires friends to keep up thinking good thoughts & doing virtuous acts

Ch. 10

  • Should we make as many friends as possible? or is there a limit?
    • It can’t be none & it can’t be too many either
    • You need to spend time together & it’s not possible with a large number of friends
    • Not good to aim for as many as possible because those who have too many friends are said to be friends to no one – they appear obsequious
    • It’s right to find enough to live together & you must be happy to find a few

Ch. 11

  • Do we need friends more in good times? or in bad times?
    • Both
    • You need them in adversity for help
    • In prosperity, you need someone to live with & make the objects of beneficence to do well by others
  • Friendship is more necessary in bad times
  • It’s more noble to seek good men as friends because it’s more desirable to give benefits to them & live with them
    • Good men make the best friends in both good times & bad times
      • Grief is lightened when it is shared
  • Friends’ presence is a mixture of various facts
    • Seeing friends is pleasant, especially in adversity & is a safeguard against grief
    • Seeing them pained at our misfortunes is painful to us
      • You don’t want to cause friends pain
    • Men tend to avoid showing pain or grief & don’t want to burden others unnecessarily
    • Women enjoy those who sympathize with their grief
  • In prosperity, friends help us to pass the time pleasantly
    • We ought to call on friends readily in good times & hesitate to call on them when we face hard times
  • It’s good to help friends in bad times without being asked, especially by those who really need the help
    • It’s good to be a reluctant object of friends’ kindness but don’t be a killjoy

Ch. 12

  • Friendships are good because they improve both parties
    • They help us live life through virtuous thinking & activity
    • This requires intimacy & frequent hanging out in all kinds of activities
    • Friendships with good men improve us & friendships with bad men harm us.

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