Aristotle: Friends Essential For a Life Well-Lived…But ARE They – Really?

Comment: 

Studies show that having a good network of friends contributes to improved health, wellbeing and longevity. However, Aristotle lived and taught his philosophy prior to Christ coming into the world, so, doesn’t that make a difference?  Surely Faith and Family suffices to make us healthy and happy into old age?  I once met a young person – Edward – who said he didn’t have any friends. In further discussion, it turned out that he really meant there was nobody outside of his immediate family whom  he truly trusted.  In his case, Faith and Family seemed sufficient, or so he argued, to see him through life.  So, who’s right – Aristotle, or Edward?

13 responses

  1. A reader, seeking to be a good friend to us all (!) emailed the following…

    August sees the start of the automatic organ donation law brought in by this Marxist SNP government. What it means is that instead of choosing freely to opt in to the organ donation scheme we are all automatically opted in and must go to a website to specifically opt out again.

    Here’s the web address if you want to warn Scottish blog readers.

    https://www.organdonationscotland.org/no

  2. I absolutely believe that friends are essential to a happy life. I don’t know where I’d be without my friends, every one of whom I could trust with my life.

    You just need to think of women in abusive relationships with men and how the first thing an abuser does is isolate the women from her family and friends. If you have someone to talk to that you can trust, outside of your own home, then you have another layer of safety.

    There’s an old saying, very true, you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends, LOL!

    • Michaela,

      You’re very blessed – I wouldn’t trust my friends to be left alone in a room with my fresh cream meringue 😀

      Seriously, well said.

  3. Well, I agree with the idea in principle that friends are a big part of our human happiness but even Christ was betrayed by one of his circle of friends, so a word of caution might be in order!

    Having said that, I am very lucky in the friendships in my life and I don’t think there is a Judas among them, LOL!

  4. I don’t think there’s an argument against friends helping to make life happier for us all, although I have heard of people (don’t know any myself) who say their pet dog or cat is their best friend, they can’t betray secrets. They have a point, LOL!

  5. If we have Our Lord, Our Lady and the saints as our friends in this life then we have happiness well beyond anything Aristotle ever imagined, which is why the holy hermits were able to live solitary lives in isolation while increasing in joy.

    Having said this, God created us generally to live in a social setting of family and friends. I have been very blessed with a close and loving family. I have also been blessed with a few friends I would trust with my life, one of them a priest-friend.

    There is a big distinction to be made between friends and acquaintances, however, the latter often being referred to mistakenly as friends. We can have hundreds of acquantances in life but very few actual friends, which is why the Imitation of Christ says that it is not expedient to be too familiar with people as this often leads to a distrubance of our peace of mind and soul. How many times have we met up with people and then regretted it, thinking that we or they said something in conversation that would have been better left unsaid?

    Nicky mentioned the betrayal of Our Lord by one of His frineds, Judas. Our Lord felt that betrayal more keenly than any of us can ever imagine, yet we suffer something of a little similar betrayal today as Catholics.

    Isn’t it true that of all our friends in life we Catholics have been gifted with the unique ability to trust as our greatest friends men we do not even know, the bishops and priests of the Church? And how great has been the betrayal of that trust by Churchmen, from the Pope down, who have in our time sought to make friends rather with the world through false ecumenism, inter-religious initiatives, Socialist doctrines and a general loss of the supernatural from their souls; betraying Our Lord anew with their Protestantised Mass, Communion in the hand, altar girls, submission to the atheistic State and all those other pieces of silver that make up the 30? And by betraying Our Lord they have also betrayed us by breaking that special bond of trust that generations of Catholics have enjoyed throughout 2000 years. It’s the hardest of all betrayals to bear!

    I remember from the life of the actor Alec Guinness that when he was making the Fr. Brown series for TV he left the set one day after a long shoot to walk back to his hotel, still in costume. On the way a child came towards him, took hold of his hand and walked with him, thinking him a priest. He said that this innocent trust in the priest was one the most moving events in his life, one that led to his conversion to the Catholic religion. That was before Vatican II and the great betrayal.

    • Athanasius,

      What a beautiful post from you. I agree with all of it.

      It’s especially interesting to think of the isolation of hermits who are happy and fulfilled in their way of life. They choose to be without a gaggle of friends so they can concentrate on God and their union with him.

      I’d heard that story before about Alec Guinness – it always moves me when I hear it not least because of the betrayal of so many priests who have been found guilty of abusing children today. They should all hear that story to add to their shame – if they feel any, that is, which is not a given, shockingly.

      • Lily,

        I agree with you about Athanasius’s beautiful post, but I’m struggling to remember the last time you said I – me, moi, any of us – had written a beautiful post.

        Jealous? Me? What makes you think that?

    • Athanasius,

      I was pleased to see your reference to we “holy hermits” – even those of us who are forced into the role… I honestly didn’t expect my neighbours to post that sign right outside of my humble home which now serves as am eremitical cell…

  6. I think there are several mistakes in the video, assuming that it transmits Aristotle’s ideas accurately (such as including pleasure in a “virtuous” relationship), but I will have to return to that later. I was, however, “happy” to see that the video listed Aristotle’s years as “B.C.” rather than “B.C.E.”

    My first thought was Our Lord’s famous statement in Matthew 18: “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

    This tells us a lot more than Aristotle could ever conceive of about the correct basis for a true Catholic relationship, whether friendship or acquaintance. Does the relationship orient us toward eternal life? If not, what does it orient us toward?

    This is a very interesting topic, and I think it also relates to the previous one about why so many youth are unhappy these days. Part of that, I’d guess, is because young people place an inordinately high value on “friendships” in order to be accepted into whatever social circle they deem desirable. In so doing, they ignore one of the basic axioms of Greek philosophy: “Know thyself.” What ends up happening to these friend-starved youth, is “ignore thyself,” or “distort thyself,” or “compromise thyself.” In fact, in many cases, “destroy thyself.”

    I’m one of those who have valued family far more than friends during my life, except during my college years, when, feeling like a fish out of water, I tried to make myself popular with a group of guys in my dorm. I succeeded, but only hurt myself as a result and wasted my college education.

    The few actual friends I’ve had I would also classify as mentors: eleven of them, all of them now passed, for whose souls I pray daily. Many of these were musical mentors, some NWO mentors, and only one Catholic mentor – a fellow columnist in our local newspaper, who tried to teach me how to argue with liberals in a more subtle and charitable manner than that to which I was accustomed (he succeeded only partially…).

    • RCA Victor,

      Clever! Well spotted! The link with the previous thread on youth – I was about to place the Aristotle video on that thread but thought, what the heck, let’s open it out a bit, it might get lost here… Can you detect my ever-growing American accent? I felt that I had to cultivate it during your leave of absence, to make sure the USA was “gone but not forgotten” so to speak!

      It’s good, of course, for young people to have friends, but I think parents need to do their best to monitor their children’s friendships, especially in the teenage years, for fear of a bad influence. Some, especially boys (ouch!) can be more easily influenced than others and a lot of damage can be done.

      I was friends with my very first real school friend, from approximately 8 years of age, until her death in the 1980s. I’m hopeless with the time-frame from my youth, but I think round about there. Honestly, I make Joe Biden look on your mark, get set, go! smart and then some. She left me a touching letter (she knew she was dying of cancer) which makes a happy contrast to the sort of writings addressed to me these days in my humble capacity as editor of CT! She had a terrific sense of humour so, if she’s reading this, she’ll be laughing – heartily 😀

  7. Having a big family is a gift, and more so if everyone in that family gets along with each other. Fortunately, I have two siblings who I can rely on. Not so for my mother: There are some real rotters in my extended and immediate family, with narcissistic and antisocial (sociopathic) traits, and there Has been some degree of parental and inter-sibling abuse and neglect. So my mother, who is estranged from all her siblings, only has her children. But there are some things that parents are not able to confide in their children, and vice-versa. At least, that is how it is in my family… I am able to share things with friends that I could never divulge to family members.

    Also, I am presently the only Catholic in my family, which means I need Catholic friends in order to experience some degree of Catholic fellowship. One cannot be Catholic by oneself. The Faith is ‘communal’, i.e. a communion… We are united to Christ and with each other in Christ.

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