Mindful Monday - Defining Friendship

Mindful Monday - Defining Friendship

As Defined by Aristotle:

Friend: People joined by a shared activity.

Friendship: Reciprocated goodwill with mutual awareness.


As Defined in Encyclopedia Britannica:

Friend: A person who you like and enjoy being with.

Friendship: A state of enduring affection and esteem with another person.


As Defined in Webster’s Dictionary:

Friend: One who is attached to another by affection.

Friendship: An attachment to a person, proceeding from an acquaintanceship.


As Defined By Facebook:

Friend: Someone who is connected to another person through the social networking site.

Friendship: The state of staying connected.

“A friend to all is a friend to none.” – Aristotle

Of the many virtues Aristotle expounded upon in his book The Nicomachean Ethics, he dedicated the most space to the virtue of friendship, which he divided into three sub-categories. The first, A Friendship of Utility, is demonstrated by reciprocated goodwill where each party is useful to each other such as business partners, study partners, and co-workers. The second, A Friendship of Pleasure centers on the delight of shared activity and companionship. Aristotle theorized that these two forms of friendship typically last only as long as the utility or pleasure, whereas the third form of friendship is rare, yet enduring.

Aristotle's third category of friendship, A Complete Friendship, is a relationship between people who are alike in virtue. Each is attracted to the other’s good values and wants what is best for the other’s well-being. This type of friendship is rare because it requires time and familiarity, wrote Aristotle. While the wish for friendship may arise quickly, a true Complete Friendship requires time to recognize and realize shared virtues. It is this type of friendship, Aristotle argued, where one interacts with one’s “other self,” recognizing the likeness of common values.

Quality of life is in the choosing. “Choice, not chance determines your destiny,” said Aristotle.

While that choice includes the people with whom one associates (friends), the equally important choice each individual must make is how best to define friendship because the definition (interpretation) of this word creates the foundation of the relationship. Many of the modern-day encyclopedic definitions omit reciprocity, goodwill, and awareness, which are so notably integrated within Aristotle’s definition of friendship.

True Friendship needs no explanation.

Postscript: Friendship. Choose first your definition, and then your friends.

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