Aristotle identified friendship as a virtue which helped escape from troubles, deepened thoughts; stimulated prosperity and honorable actions. For Aristotle, it can be a salvation from solitude for elderly people and a mean to avoid errors for youth. But first of all he referred to friendship as equality between parties involved in it.
Aristotle distinguished three kinds of friendship based on the object of love. He considered that friendship sprung up when someone was useful, pleasant or good for the other. Herewith, friendship based on utility is incidental and temporary. Older people are prone to make useful friends. On the contrary, young people are inclined to have pleasant friends because their relations are mostly founded on emotions. True friendship may occur between people who are good and alike in virtue. Aristotle called this perfect friendship and noticed that such friendship was rare. He also noticed that this kind of friendship required much time and familiarity to develop (Aristotle, p. 192).
Aristotle disclaimed friendship between older and younger persons because of age inequality since this kind of relationship was a relationship of a ruler and a subject. In this case friendship is possible when both of the parties contribute equally into relationships. Likewise people who prefer to be loved rather than express love cannot establish real friendship because of excessive love of flattery. Also, he discredited friendship between people of different social status or the level of welfare, wicked and sour people. He singly designated a friendship of kindred as a friendship of association (Aristotle, p. 215).
Thus, Aristotle stated that friendship for utility was not genuine and it dissolved after the issue was resolved. Such friendship does not last long since there is no ground for reciprocal attraction. On the contrary to friendship for utility, true friendship may last as long as parties stay good to each other since people involved in this kind of friendship are interested in each other personality rather than making temporary friends for a certain benefit. However, quality relationships require time and contribution. Friendship for pleasantness does not pursue certain objective. However, it is somewhat superficial and does not last for a long time like a friendship for utility.
Aristotle marked out three kinds of constitution, namely: aristocracy, monarchy and timocracy (polity). Also, he singled out perversions (deviations) of each constitution which were oligarchy, tyranny and democracy respectively. For Aristotle, monarchy is the best constitution while timocracy is the worst. On the contrary, tyranny is the worst and democracy is the least bad perversion. The worst harm caused by any perversions is predominance of private interests over common wealth. Meanwhile, tyrant strives for his advantage while king looks to his subjects (Aristotle, p. 210).
Monarchy may turn into tyranny as well as bad king may become a tyrant. Oligarchy may arise from aristocracy as a result of governors’ badness when they cannot properly distribute common equity. Democracy is the worst form of timocracy expressed as a rule of the majority. Those were the changes Aristotle considered constitutions were subject most of all.
Interestingly, he illustrated constitutions by taking households as an example. He described both male and female styles of ruling a family as oligarchy. Also, he associated the relationships between siblings and peers with timocracy due to the presence of equality. In its worst form, democracy, the ruler is weak and everyone acts like he or she pleases (Aristotle, p. 216).
Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., (1998). Print.