In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that friendship is a necessary requisite for human ‘happiness.’ His broad description of these relationships includes friendships of utility (as between student and teacher) and of pleasure (as between lovers). However, the ancient Greek thinker remains critically uncertain of the summit, the highest culmination, of friendship. In fact, Aristotle claims that ‘perfect’ or ‘complete’ friendship is rare, if not impossible. Most friendships are, therefore, as much about auxiliary benefits as about the individuals themselves.
While most would agree that friendship is a difficult matter to pin down, modern cyber-technology is pushing some to question such ‘liberal’ standards. Archbishop Vincent Nichols recently criticized the kind of friendship promoted through ‘social networking sites’ (i.e., MySpace and Facebook). The Catholic leader maintained that these ‘un-rounded’ communities foster ‘transient relationships’ and are a likely source of the increasing alienation and depression felt amongst today’s youth.
One wonders if the cyber-realm should be chastised for prohibiting the possibility of authentic friendship or commended for re-defining the limits of what friendship might entail. To read more, see this article from the BBC.
Julie Ward , Loyola University,
Philosophy Compass 4/3