The term friendship has been defined differently by different scholars. According to Aristotle (2003), friendship is a virtue. Meilaender (1981) on the other hand defines friendship as the deep attachment that one have to another and the preference for him/her majorly based on the personalities. Together with Emerson, Bhikhu, Hall and Ames, the scholars have emphasized that friendship plays a central role in both the individual and in the society. Emersion (2002), for example, states that all other things are like husks and shell if friendship is lacking. He noted that friendship requires natures that are rare and costly and that its level of satisfaction is in most cases not assured. This paper will look at this concept into details by paying specific attention to Emerson’s ideas concerning friendship and supporting his ideas with those by the other authors.
Value and Justification of Friendship
I agree with Emerson’s (2002) position that all other things are like husks and shell without friendship. He had noted that friendship drives away selfishness while enabling people to honor and rejoice with one another. He justified his argument by noting that it is our affection that works to increases our powers both intellectually and actively. His argument that affection makes us even be at peace with others who are totally strange to us is true. He had noted that friendship make individuals to have a new world of their own creation where they are no longer strangers to one another. He also added that friends erases every character that would promote individuality such as one’s sex or race to make them be one.
All other authors seem to agree with the view that friendship is what makes life meaningful as fronted by Emerson. Friendship has both the individual value and the social values attached to it. Aristotle (2003) supports this position noting that friendship has remained a basic necessity to all irrespective of one’s position in the society. He further argued that even prosperity is meaningless without friendship. To him, friendship is the most reliable source of refuge to those who are poor as well as the immediate source of help to meet the needs of the aged.
Emerson had also noted that Friendship also helps ensure morality. Aristotle (2003) seemed to have supported this notion when he noted that friendship enables those who are still young to avoid making errors in life. He added that friendship also ensures a better the relationship that exists between children and their parents and thus promoting peaceful coexistence. Aristotle’s further argument that whenever friendship prevails among men, there will be no need for justice but that justice without friendship is never complete shows his strong conviction of the role of friendship in instilling morality.
Qualities of a Perfect Friendship
I also agree with Emersion (2002) that friendship requires natures that are rare and costly and that its level of satisfaction can in most cases not be assured. This same argument is also supported by Aristotle (2003), who notes that such qualities are only present with good men and argues that only good men can be friends. He clarified that bad men can only become friends if they are going to gain. This is contrary to what is expected of good men who become friends for the sake of one another. Because it is hard to get the ‘good men’ as described by Aristotle, his support of Emerson’s position that friendship requires natures that are rare and costly becomes obvious. Aristotle further notes that a perfect relationship based on another’s character is not easily attained because of much time and the high level of familiarity required for their attainment.
I also agree with Emersion (2002) on the need for a high level of openness and trust between the parties in any friendship relation. The argument is also supported by Parekh (1994) who underlines the need for openness and sincerity among friends. Meilaender (1981) on the other hand in supporting this notion argued that any kind of friendship based on the usefulness of another friend will automatically end. To him, the requirement of fidelity gives a suggestion that friendship will always remain a very rare experience in human life. This is because as most people are looking for enjoyments, fidelity demands that the partners be committed to their purpose which can withstand even worst situations.
I further agree with Emersion on his view that friends should be able to entertain one another without anyone of them expecting any form of stipulation. The same position is supported by Meilaender who notes that this will be based on mutuality and shared good will. Aristotle (2003) supported the same position through his argument that a perfect relationship requires that partners remain good to one another thus provides one another with excellence while wishing him well not for any gain. Aristotle had also argued that the level of permanence of any friendship depend on how much friends are able to reciprocated the good done by one another.
Emerson’s (2002) argument that also notes that friendship requires a compromise between likeness and unlikeness which enables the parties to have some level of consent is also true. He justified his claim stating that the individuals coming together in a friendship relationship should never cease to be themselves while at the same time they should not also be only interested in what benefits them. He said that one must be his own before he becomes another’s. Meilaender (1981) also agreed with Emersion recommending that friendship should be based on the qualities such as reciprocity as is the case with agape love. He emphasized that for us to enjoy friendship we must be ready to sacrifice the assurance of permanence.
Emersion (2002) also rightfully cautioned that friendship should not make demands. Meilaender (1981) agreed with Emersion noting that any friendship which greatly depends on shared interests and enjoyments can easily be weakened and destroyed by difficult circumstances. He further explains that in order to avoid parting ways over issues, friends must be ready to be loyal to one another. This notion by Emersion is also supported by Hall and Rodgers (1994) who note that the continuity of any friendship is based on the nature of interdependency between the parties.
Emersion’s (2002) assertions that friendship is held together by the sincerity of peace and joy which is drawn from it is also true. He had emphasized the need to practice tenderness which will enable the parties in any friendship to endure tough times together. Emersion (2002) justified his argument by explaining that the only way in which one can reward virtue is by giving virtue and therefore the only way in which one can have a friend is by being one. Aristotle (2003) supported these arguments asserting that individuals must also learn to get pleasure from the sites of one another while also giving attention.
The Nature of Friendship
Emerson’s (2002) had argued that friendship requires a compromise between likeness and unlikeness. According to his argument this is what enables the parties to have some level of consent. This notion is also supported by Aristotle (2003) who used the various phrases that have been utilized in describing the nature of friendship in his argument. Among such phrases are; ‘birds of the same feathers flock together’ which implies the same meaning as ‘the likes attracts the like’. Aristotle used these phrases to explain that, in any kind of, good people will always attract good people while those who are bad attract their equals. This is in line with the views of Hall and Rodgers (1994) friendship results from a good collaboration of people’s interests. They equally argued that such collaboration must be based on humanity and goodness.
Emersion (2002) also argues that friends should have the same interests or be ready to harmonize their different interests. Aristotle (2003) supported the same argument noting that love is only possible among the people who he describes as lovable. His argument is was that it is this group of people who give out some good or pleasure to those who love them. He notes the tendency of man to only love what is good for them. He advises that every individual who join together in friendship must learn to wish each other good. This means that every party in a friendship relationship must always be ready to reciprocate the good done for them for the continuation of the relationship. Parekh (1994) supported this notion arguing that friendship must be based on love and openness. He seems to have agreed with Aristotle when he asserts that the choice of a friend is solely guided by benevolence which means the good people will attract one another.
Types of Friendship
According to Aristotle, there are three kinds of friendship depending on what they are based on. These are friendships of pleasure, friendships of utility, and that of virtue. Basically friendship of pleasure is based on some kind of pleasure friends obtain from one another, while that of utility is based on the usefulness one sees in another person. Finally, that of virtue is based on another’s character.
From this description, friendships based on both utility and pleasures are always described as the imperfect forms of friendships. They are normally incidental because the parties in friendship do not love one another for who they are but because of the good that they are able to obtain from them. This means that this kind of friendship can easily be dissolved especially whenever either of the parties portrays a change. This type of friendship is common among the young generation majorly because they love pleasure and are normally influenced by their emotions. Because of the change in the pleasure as they advance in age, such friendship never last for long.
In conclusion, friendship is therefore an instrumental part of both the individual and the society that should never be avoided but should be encourages by all means. Any society whose members cherish friendship normally experiences peace. Equally, individuals who participate in friendship relationships normally live better and pleasurable life.