Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

Self-Love: The Blueprint for Justice

Aristotle asks good human beings to be self-lovers, devoting special attention to virtue's most fundamental groundwork. With all individual actions, it is the intellect which must determine the course of proper morality and strength of character; the path of right action elucidated in Nicomachean Ethics thus grounds itself in that personal aim for moral excellence. Given that the basic esteem one has for oneself inevitably precludes any concern for another, ideal friendship (friendship in its most perfect form) exhibits the larger activation of self-love's most notable qualities. Friendship on these grounds then provides a fine arena for just action and good works. Aristotle's analysis of this seemingly ill-united pair - the love for the self and the love for another - rather substantiates the intrinsic alliance of these two functions, posing further the impossibility of extrapolating friendship from self-love or self-love from friendship. Through an extensive survey of self-love's capacity to cultivate a just civilization, Aristotle discloses the fundamentally private origin of civil justice and social concern.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that "friends enhance our ability to think and to...

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