Aristotle’s NE ix 9 on Why the Happy Person Needs Friends

Ancient Philosophy 41 (2):495-518 (2021)
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Abstract

In Nicomachean Ethics ix 9, Aristotle answers the question of why the happy person needs friends. I argue that interpretatively, we must understand ix 9 in instrumental terms. I begin with ix 9’s opening sections, arguing that Aristotle understands the question of why the happy person needs friends, and his answer, in instrumental terms. Aristotle’s first major argument suggests that the instrumental role friends play has to do with one’s own activity, specifically self-contemplation. This argument, however, does not clearly show why friends over and above just any other people are needed. To address this, I attend to NE’s longest sustained argument and show that it makes headway on this question, and in a way that again presents an instrumental account for why the happy person needs friends: facilitation of one’s own activity.

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Bradford Jean-Hyuk Kim
University of Southampton

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