Friendship, that is the one needful thing for this conversation. What I mean mostly is that no matter where we stand, when we are done discussing something, we still should be friends. We remain friends because we love one another, not because we are convenient for one another or support one another or agree with one another. We remain friends because we are committed to the same Person and the same Vision (Kingdom) and root our identity in the same Theo-Drama (Scripture).
Can you be a friend to the other? There are three kinds of friendship, and what kind we have determines whether or not we can remain friends through conversation.
Today I’d like to reflect on the nature of friendship by looking briefly at Aristotle and Cicero. Here’s an outline of ideas.
1.0 What is Friendship?
Aristotle (NE 8.2.4): “To be friends therefore, persons must (1) feel goodwill for each other, that is, wish each other’s good, and (2) be aware of each other’s goodwill, and (3) the cause of their goodwill must be one of the lovable qualities mentioned above.”
Note: “goodwill” is mutual desire for the good of another; “lovable qualities” are what is good and pleasant.
Cicero (De Amicitia 6.20): “For friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods.”
2.0 Three Kinds of Friendship in Aristotle (NE 8.3.1-6)
2.1 Utility: loving another “in so far as some benefit accrues to them from each other.”
2.2 Pleasure: loving another “because that person is agreeable to us” or because that person “is a source of pleasure.”
2.3 Virtue: those who love another and so “wish the good of their friends for their friends’ sake … [and] who love each other for themselves and not accidentally.”
Cicero: “good persons love and join to themselves other good persons, in a union which is almost that of relationship and nature” (De Amicitia 13.50).
Aristotle: “Therefore, it is between good persons that affection and friendship exist in their fullest and best form” (NE 8.3.8).
A good way to measure where you are “fit” for this conversation is to see what happens to you when you disagree. Right then you’ll know if your friendship is one of utility, pleasure, or virtue.
The only genuine conversation going on is between friends of virtue.