Front Page Titles (by Subject) 10.: Of the proper number of friends. - The Nicomachean Ethics
10.: Of the proper number of friends. - Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics 
The Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle, trans. F.H. Peters, M.A. 5th edition (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., 1893).
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- Preface to the Fifth Edition.
- Book I.: The End.
- 1.: In All He Does Man Seeks Same Good As End Or Means.
- 2.: The End Is the Good; Our Subject Is This and Its Science Politics.
- 3.: Exactness Not Permitted By Subject Nor to Be Expected By Student, Who Needs Experience and Training.
- 4.: Men Agree That the Good Is Happiness, But Differ As to What This Is.
- 5.: The Good Cannot Be Pleasure, Nor Honour, Nor Virtue.
- 6.: Various Arguments to Show Against the Platonists That There Cannot Be One Universal Good.
- 7.: The Good Is the Final End, and Happiness Is This.
- 8.: This View Harmonizes Various Current Views.
- 9.: It Happiness Acquired, Or the Gift of Gods Or of Chance?
- 10.: Can No Man Be Called Happy During Life?
- 11.: Cannot the Fortunes of Survivors Affect the Dead?
- 12.: Happiness As Absolute End Is Above Praise.
- 13.: Division of the Faculties and Resulting Division of the Virtues.
- Book II.: Moral Virtue.
- 1.: Moral Virtue Is Acquired By the Repetition of the Corresponding Acts.
- 2.: These Acts Must Be Such As Reason Prescribes; They Can’t Be Defined Exactly, But Must Be Neither Too Much Nor Too Little.
- 3.: Virtue Is In Various Ways Concerned With Pleasure and Pain.
- 4.: The Conditions of Virtuous Action As Distinct From Artistic Production.
- 5.: Virtue Not an Emotion, Nor a Faculty, But a Trained Faculty Or Habit.
- 6.: Viz., the Habit of Choosing the Mean.
- 7.: This Must Be Applied to the Several Virtues.
- 8.: The Two Vicious Extremes Are Opposed to One Another and to the Intermediate Virtue.
- 9.: The Mean Hard to Hit, and Is a Matter of Perception, Not of Reasoning.
- Book III.
- Chapters 1–5.: the Will.
- 1.: An Act Is Involuntary When Done (a) Under Compulsion, Or (b) Through Ignorance: (a) Means Not Originated By Doer, (b) Means Through Ignorance of the Circumstances: Voluntary Then Means Originated With Knowledge of Circumstances.
- 2.: Purpose, a Mode of Will, Means Choice After Deliberation.
- 3.: We Deliberate On What We Can Do—not On Ends, But Means.
- 4.: We Wish For
- 5.: Virtue and Vice Are Alike Voluntary, Our Acts Are Our Own; For We Are Punished For Them; If This Be Our Character, We Have Made It By Repeated Acts; Even Bodily Vices Are Blamable When Thus Formed. We Cannot Plead That Our Notion of Good Depends On Ou
- Chapters 6—12: the Several Moral Virtues and Vices.
- 6.: Of Courage and the Opposite Vices.
- 7. Of Courage (continued)
- 8. Of Courage Improperly So Called.
- 9.: How Courage Involves Both Pain and Pleasure.
- 10.: Of Temperance.
- 11. Of Temperance (continued)
- 12.: How Profligacy Is More Voluntary Than Cowardice.
- Book IV.: The Several Moral Virtues and Vices— Continued.
- 1.: Of Liberality.
- 2.: Of Magnificence.
- 3.: Of High-mindedness
- 4.: Of a Similar Virtue In Smaller Matters.
- 5.: Of Gentleness.
- 6.: Of Agreeableness.
- 7.: Of Truthfulness.
- 8.: Of Wittiness.
- 9.: Of the Feeling of Shame
- Book V.: The Several Moral Virtues and Vices— Concluded. Justice.
- 1.: Preliminary Two Senses of Justice Distinguished Justice (l) = Obedience to Law = Complete Virtue.
- 2.: Of Justice (2) = Fairness, How Related to Justice (1). What Is Just In Distribution Distinguished From What Is Just In Correction.
- 3.: Of What Is Just In Ditribution and Its Rule of Geometrical Proportion.
- 4.: Of That Which Is Just In Correction, and Its Rule of Arithmetical Proportion.
- 5.: Simple Requital Is Not Identical With What Is Just, But Proportionate Requital Is What Is Just In Exchange; and This Is Effected By Means of Money. We Can Now Give a General Definition of Justice (2).
- 6.: ( One Can Act Unjustly Without Being Unjust. ) That Which Is Just In the Strict Sense Is Between Citizens Only, For It Implies Law.
- 7.: It Is In Part Natural, In Part Conventional.
- 8.: The Internal Conditions of a Just Or Unjust Action, and of a Just Or Unjust Agent.
- 9.: Sundry Questions About Doing and Suffering Injustice
- 10.: Of Equity
- 11.: Can a Man Wrong Himself?
- Book VI.: The Intellectual Virtues.
- 1.: Must Be Studied Because (a) Reason Prescribes the Mean, (b) They Are a Part of Human Excellence. the Intellect Is (1) Scientific, (2) Calculative: We Want the Virtue of Each.
- 2.: The Function of the Intellect, Both In Practice and Speculation, Is to Attain Truth.
- 3.: Of the Five Modes of Attaining Truth: (1) of Demonstrative Science of Things Invariable.
- 4.: Of Knowledge of Things Variable, Viz. (2) of Art In What We Make;
- 5.: And (3) of Prudence In What We Do, the Virtue of the Calculative Intellect.
- 6.: (4) of Intuitive Reason As the Basis of Demonstrative Science.
- 7.: (5) of Wisdom As the Union of Science and Intuitive Reason. Comparison of the Two Intellectual Virtues, Wisdom and Prudence.
- 8.: Prudence Compared With Statesmanship and Other Forms of Knowledge.
- 9.: Of Deliberation.
- 10.: Of Intelligence
- 11.: Of Judgment of Reason Or Intuitive Perception As the Basis of the Practical Intellect.
- 12.: Of the Uses of Wisdom and Prudence. How Prudence Is Related to Cleverness.
- 13.: How Prudence Is Related to Moral Virtue
- Book VII.
- Chapters 1–10.: Characters Other Than Virtue and Vice.
- 1.: Of Continence and Incontinence, Heroic Virtue and Brutality. of Method. Statement of Opinions About Continence.
- 2.: Statement of Difficulties As to How One Can Know Right and Do Wrong.
- 3.: Solution: to Know Has Many Senses; In What Sense Such a Man Knows.
- 4.: Of Incontinence In the Strict and In the Metaphorical Sense.
- 5.: Of Incontinence In Respect of Brutal Or Morbid Appetites.
- 6.: Incontinence In Anger Less Blamed Than In Appetite.
- 7.: Incontinence Yields to Pleasure, Softness to Pain. Two Kinds of Incontinence, the Hasty and the Weak.
- 8.: Incontinence Compared With Vice and Virtue.
- 9.: Continence and Incontinence Not Identical With Keeping and Breaking a Resolution.
- 10.: Prudence Is Not, But Cleverness Is, Compatible With Incontinence.
- Chapters 11—14.: of Pleasure.
- 11.: We Must Now Discuss Pleasure. Opinions About It.
- 12.: Answers to Arguments Against Goodness of Pleasure. Ambiguity of Good and Pleasant. Pleasure Not a Transition, But Unimpeded Activity.
- 13.: Pleasure Is Good, and the Pleasure That Consists In the Highest Activity Is the Good. All Admit That Happiness Is Pleasant. Bodily Pleasures Not the Only Pleasures.
- 14.: Of the Bodily Pleasures, and the Distinction Between Naturally and Accidentally Pleasant.
- Book VIII.: Friendship Or Love.
- 1.: Uses of Friendship. Differences of Opinion About It.
- 2.: Three Motives of Friendship. Friendship Defined.
- 3.: Three Kinds of Friendship, Corresponding to the Three Motives Perfect Friendship Is That Whose Motive Is the Good.
- 4.: The Others Are Imperfect Copies of This.
- 5.: Intercourse Necessary to the Maintenance of Friendship.
- 6.: Impossible to Have Many True Friends.
- 7.: Of Friendship Between Unequal Persons and Its Rule of Proportion. Limits Within Which This Is Possible.
- 8.: Of Loving and Being Loved.
- 9.: Every Society Has Its Own Form of Friendship As of Justice. All Societies Are Summed Up In Civil Society.
- 10.: Of the Three Forms of Constitution.
- 11.: Of the Corresponding Forms of Friendship.
- 12.: Of the Friendship of Kinsmen and Comrades.
- 13.: Of the Terms of Interchange and Quarrels Hence Arising In Equal Friendships.
- 14.: Of the Same In Unequal Friendships.
- Book IX.: Friendship Or Love— Continued.
- 1.: Of the Rule of Proportion In Dissimilar Friendships.
- 2.: Of the Conflict of Duties.
- 3.: Of the Dissolution of Friendships.
- 4.: A Man’s Relation to His Friend Like His Relation to Himself.
- 5.: Friendship and Goodwill.
- 6.: Friendship and Unanimity
- 7.: Why Benefactors Love More Than They Are Loved.
- 8.: In What Sense It Is Right to Love One’s Self.
- 9.: Why a Happy Man Needs Friends.
- 10.: Of the Proper Number of Friends.
- 11.: Friends Needed Both In Prosperity and Adversity.
- 12.: Friendship Is Realized In Living Together.
- Book X.
- Chapters 1–5.: Pleasure.
- 1.: Reasons For Discussing Pleasure.
- 2.: Arguments of Eudoxus That Pleasure Is the Good.
- 3.: Argument That It Is Not a Quality; That It Is Not Determined; That It Is a Motion Or Coming Into Being. Pleasures Differ In Kind.
- 4.: Pleasure Defined: Its Relation to Activity.
- 5.: Pleasures Differ According to the Activities the Standard Is the Good Man.
- Chapters 6–9.: Conclusion.
- 6.: Happiness Not Amusement, But Life.
- 7.: Of the Speculative Life As Happiness In the Highest Sense.
- 8.: Of the Practical Life As Happiness In a Lower Sense, and of the Relation Between the Two. Prosperity, How Far Needed.
- 9.: How Is the End to Be Realized?
Of the proper number of friends.
Are we to make as many friends as possible? or, as in the case of guest-friendship we approve of the saying, “neither a host of guest-friends nor yet none,” shall we say that in the case of friendship also it is best neither to be friendless nor yet to have too many friends?
With regard to friends who are chosen with a view to being useful, the saying would seem to be perfectly appropriate; for it would be troublesome to repay the services of a large number, and indeed life is not long enough to enable us to do it. Of such friends, therefore, a larger number than is sufficient for one’s own life would be superfluous and a hindrance to noble living; so we do not want more than that number.
Again, of friends chosen with a view to pleasure a small number is enough, as a small proportion of sweets is enough in our diet.
But are we to have as many good men for friends as we can, or is there any limit of numbers in friendship, as there is in a state? for you could not make a state out of ten men, and if you had a hundred thousand your state would cease to be a state. But perhaps the right number of citizens is not one fixed number, but any number within certain limits. And so with friends there is a limit to their number, and that is, we may say, the largest number that one can live with (for living together is, as we saw, one of the most essential characteristics of friendship); but it is quite evident that it is impossible to live with and spread one’s self abroad among a large number.
Moreover, a man’s friends must be friends with one another, if all are to spend their time together; but this is difficult with a large number.
Again, it becomes hard for him to sympathize duly with the joys and sorrows of a large number; for then he is likely to have at the same time to rejoice with one and to grieve with another. Perhaps, then, the best plan is not to try to have as many friends as possible, but so many as are sufficient for a life in common; and indeed it would be impossible to have an ardent friendship with a great number.
And, for the same reason, it is impossible to be in love with many persons at once; for it seems that love is a sort of superlative friendship, and that this is only possible towards one person, and an ardent friendship towards a few only.
And this seems, in fact, to happen: we do not find a number of people bound together by the sort of friendship that exists between comrades, but the friendships that the poets celebrate are friendships of two persons. And the man of many friends, who is hail-fellow-well-met with everybody, seems to be really friends with no one (in any other way than as fellow-citizens are friends)—I mean the man whom we call obsequious.
After the manner of fellow-citizens, indeed, it is possible to be friends with a great number, and yet not to be obsequious, but to be a truly good man; but that kind of friendship which is based on virtue and on regard for the friend’s self one cannot have for many, but must be well satisfied if one can find even a few such persons.