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Philosophy Essay, Aristotle: Challenging Aristotle’s Pessimism on Friendship in Nicomachean Ethics

In book eight of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues against real friendship. Aristotle bases his stand on a stringent criterion, which he sees as essential for true friendship to thrive among equals. Aristotle’s argument has two central premises and a conclusion. According to Aristotle, true friendship can only be achieved based on deep shared personality. He also claims that real friends must be people who are virtuous by virtue. Based on this, Aristotle concludes that real friendship is scarce, thus implying it is almost inconceivable.

Aristotle’s Argument in Nicomachean Ethics, Book 8

In Book 8 of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues against the possibility of a true friendship. He summarizes his argument in two premises and a conclusion. Aristotle first argues that true friendship is based on a deep personality resemblance (Umezinwa 114). Additionally, he claims that real friends must share identical moral values . Aristotle starts from these postulates and concludes that genuine friendship is hard to find, if not impossible.

In this regard, Aristotle highlights the importance of virtue in friendship and states the first premise. He states that friends must consider one another’s virtues, understand each other well, and genuinely wish each other well. The fact that this virtue is the foundation of friendship fits into the more prominent ethics as put forward by Aristotle. The second premise, however, adds another more rigorous criterion, which states that good friendship can happen only between good people.

Aristotle substantiates these assumptions by stating that virtues respect one another, good is a common factor amongst good people, and friends are concerned with each other’s welfare, which should be considered fundamental aspects of true friendship. His central thesis is based on strictly defining what true friendships are and who can be considered friends. Aristotle makes the criteria for forming real friendships stringent by stating that only morally sound people can enter such relationships, which means people with faults and vices may be left out.

Aristotle’s central thesis is worthy of careful inspection, especially where friendship is conditional on almost identical personality and shared virtues. The issue here is that it challenges the inclusiveness and adaptability of friendship (Umezinwa 116). Accordingly, it is argued against the above element of Aristotle’s argument that true friendship does not necessarily presuppose a nearly identical constitution of virtues in the friends. It, however, argues that such difference makes friendship beautiful because every friend brings something different to the table.

Through their objection against Aristotle’s position, there is an attempt to argue that friendship is possible even between people dissimilar in virtue, at least in some cases. This point questions the need for a common virtue as the basis for genuine friendship, positing that diversity fosters a relationship’s depth, durability, and vibrancy. The objection accepts thar argument, dramatically widening the range of possible relationships beyond those whose friends’ virtues are virtually identical– something usually held as necessary for a true friendship.

Analysis and Scrutiny of Aristotle’s Argument

Aristotle’s argument is premised on the view that true friendship is grounded in the deep-rooted similitude of one’s character, with voiceover individuals having no chance of being friends. This viewpoint highlights the role of morality in compatibility. However, it could be too strict. However, Aristotle denies friendship between persons who differ in virtue or moral status, thereby limiting substantive friendship to a particular case. Additionally, Aristotle’s claim that only the good have real friendships brings on doubts about whether such relationships accommodate all persons. So, the people with flaws or vices and those involved in vice cannot have true friends because it seems more complicated than that.

However, the most critical part of the argument worthy of closer attention relates to the requirement that individuals must share particular virtues to be true friends with one another. Focusing on more than just virtuous people with almost the same characteristics may disregard the breadth of diversity and the deepness of different morals.

Objecting to Aristotle’s Argument

The objection against Aristotle’s argument is based on the necessary character-total coincidence. The complementariness of virtuousness in the friendship situation may be an area ignored by Aristotle as he advocates a near mirror image of virtues between the friend’s friends.


Aristotle’s argument is incorrect because it presupposes that true friendships require almost identical characters and virtues among friends. Nevertheless, there is always a charm in friendship. That comes from how every person contributes their unique character and difference to enrich the relationship. It is worth noting that true friendship grows not in vain between persons endowed with matching virtues and also when it involves diverse qualities for mutual support in cultivation.

Imagine two friends showing different virtues; one has the virtue of courage, and the other has wisdom as his best trait. Instead of stagnating their friendship, these differences promote it, allowing every friend to profit from the other’s strengths. According to this objection, it is not so much a shared virtue but a different set of characteristics that should be required by a true friend to give strength and depth to the relationship.

Were this objection admitted, it would seriously affect what Aristotle argued regarding friendship since it enlarges friendship’s ambit. That contradicts the general belief that it takes near-identical virtues to have a true friendship. They claim these variations make comradeship even more powerful.

To sum it up, Aristotle’s arguments that true friendship is impossible are flawed. Aristotle focuses on the need for a similar character/virtue/shared attribute as a vital part of any friendship. On the other hand, this position was challenged by an objection that argued that genuine friendliness should not be limited only to close friends and relatives. The acceptance of this objection will alter the argument of Aristotle on conditioning his idea of true friendship.

Works Cited

Umezinwa, Cletus. “The non-universal application of Aristotle’s forms of friendship.” West African Journal Of Philosophical Studies, 20 2023.


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