“Aristotle’s Email – Or, Friendship In The Cyber Age”

In Book VIII of his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle categorizes three different types of friendship: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of the good. Friendships of utility are those where people are on cordial terms primarily because each person benefits from the other in some way. Business partnerships, relationships among co-workers, and classmate connections are examples. Friendships of pleasure are those where individuals seek out each other’s company because of the joy it brings. Passionate love affairs, people associating with each other due to belonging to the same hobby organization, and fishing buddies fall into this category. Most important of all are friendships of the good. These are friendships based upon mutual respect, admiration for each other’s virtues, and a strong desire to aid and assist the other person because one recognizes their essential goodness.
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Email has added a new wrinkle to Aristotle’s threefold schemata. Thanks to it, and the wonders of the internet in general, it is now easier than ever to stay in touch with people from throughout one’s life.

Aristotle’s Email — Or, Friendship In The Cyber Age,” by Tim Madigan, Philosophy Now, May/June 2007

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