19 March, 2000

Author: George Irbe

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TI- Terence Irwin, Hackett Publishing Co. 1985
DR - David Ross, Oxford University Press 1980
JT - J.A.K. Thomson, Penguin Books 1955


Text Remarks
[JT] In general the owners of a commodity do not set the same price upon it as those who wish to acquire it, since all types of people feel that their own possessions and gifts are of great value. However, what determines the payment is the price fixed by the recipient; but presumably he should value what he receives not at the price that seems fair to him after he received it, but at what he thought it was worth before he got it. The value of a commodity or possession.
[TI] If we accept a friend as a good person, and then he becomes vicious, and seems so, should we still love him? Surely, we cannot, if not everything, but only what is good, is lovable. What is bad is not lovable, and must not be loved; for we ought neither to love what is bad nor to become similar to a bad person, and we have said that similar is friend to similar. Wickedness cannot be tolerated in a friend, lest we become wicked too. Friendship with a person gone bad should be discontinued.
[DR] The bad man does not seem to be amicably disposed even to himself, because there is nothing in him to love; so that if to be thus is the height of wretchedness, we should strain every nerve to avoid wickedness and should endeavour to be good; for so and only so can one be either friendly to oneself or a friend to another. We must try our utmost to be good for the sake of ourselves and our friends.
[JT] Concord is evidently (as the word is actually used) friendship between the citizens of a state, because it is concerned with their interests and living conditions. This sort of concord is found among good men, because they are in accord both with themselves and with one another, having (broadly speaking) the same outlook. For the wishes of such people remain constant and do not ebb and flow like the tides; and they wish for what is just and advantageous, and also pursue these objects in common. Virtuous citizens make good civic friends and a good and just society.
[DR] All men love more what they have won by labour; e.g. those who have made their money love it more than those who have inherited it; and to be well treated seems to involve no labour, while to treat others well is a laborious task. Men value more the things they acquire through their own efforts. Treating others well takes an effort. Therefore, men value friends.
[DR] If a man were always anxious that he himself, above all things, should act justly, temperately, or in accordance with any other of the virtues, and in general were always to try to secure for himself the honourable course, no one would call such a man a lover of self or blame him. A virtuous man is never accused of self-love.
[TI] When everyone competes to achieve what is fine and strains to do the finest actions, everything that is right will be done for the common good, and each person individually will receive the greatest goods, since that is the character of virtue. Hence the good person must be a self-lover, since he will both help himself and benefit others by doing fine actions. But the vicious person must not love himself, since he will harm both himself and his neighbours by following his base feelings. A virtuous person loves himself as well as others. The vicious person loves no one since he destroys everything by his vices.
[DR] It is true of the good man too that he does many acts for the sake of his friends and his country, and if necessary dies for them; for he will throw away both wealth and honours and in general the goods that are objects of competition, gaining for himself nobility. Rightly then he is thought to be good, since he chooses nobility before all else. The virtuous person will sacrifice himself and his possessions for the good of friends and country.
[DR] The happy man needs friends. For we have said at the outset that happiness is an activity; and activity plainly comes into being and is not present at the start like a piece of property. If happiness lies in living and being active, and the good man's activity is virtuous and pleasant in itself, as we said at the outset, and a thing's being one's own is one of the attributes that make it pleasant, and we can contemplate our neighbours better than ourselves and their actions better than our own, and if the actions of virtuous men who are their friends are pleasant to good men (since they have both the attributes that are naturally pleasant) -- if this be so, the supremely happy man will need friends of this sort, since his purpose is to contemplate worthy actions and actions that are his own, and the actions of a good man who is his friend have both these qualities. The happy man needs friends who are like him -- virtuous and pleasant.
[TI] It is good not to seek as many friends as possible, and good to have no more than enough for living together; indeed it even seems impossible to be an extremely close friend to many people. For the same reason it also seems impossible to be passionately in love with many people, since passionate erotic love tends to be an excess of friendship, and one has this for one person; hence also one has extremely close friendship for a few people. One should not seek to have too many close friends because it is impossible to extend close affections to more than a few people.
[DR] One cannot have with many people the friendship based on virtue and on the character of our friends themselves, and we must be content if we find even a few such. We are lucky to acquire even just a few friends with virtuous character.
[JT] We should invite our friends wholeheartedly to share our successes (because generosity is a fine impulse), but hesitate to ask them to visit us in our misfortunes. The best time to call friends to one's aid is when they seem likely to do one a great service with little trouble to themselves. Conversely it is probably the proper course to visit friends in misfortune readily, and without waiting to be invited, for it is the part of a friend to do a kindness, particularly to those who are in need, and have not asked for it. Friends should not be burdened with our misfortunes, but invited to share in our good fortune. One should extend a helping hand to a friend unasked.
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