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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Budding Writers
Why people should have a certain amount of friends
    2017-August-9  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

In Chapter 10, Book 9 of “Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle claimed that people should neither have no friends nor have too many friends (Aristotle, 1170b. 24). He held this belief because people’s lives are too short to reciprocate their friends’ efforts and a few friends who make them happy are definitely enough for them (Aristotle, 1170b. 25-29). For complete friendship, Aristotle also said that it is not wise to make too many friends.

According to that chapter, he believed that people are not able to live with too many people and it is also difficult for their friends to live together (Aristotle, 1171a. 3-6). He also thought that people usually are not able to share pleasure and grief at the same time.

As a result, they should avoid making too many friends because they will always receive these emotions from their friends simultaneously (Aristotle, 1171a. 6-9). In addition, he indicated that close friendship, similar to erotic love, is just for a few people (Aristotle, 1171a.11-13).

I totally agree with Aristotle’s view that we should have a certain number of friends, as people cannot be self-reliant when they make too many friends. Aristotle once said that complete friendship exists only when people wish well for their friends’ own sakes (Aristotle, 1156b. 10-11).

In other words, true friends will treat their friends as they treat themselves. It is a fortunate thing for us to have these kinds of people as our friends. This kind of friendship is quite similar to familial affection as our parents are also willing to help us without reciprocation.

It is because parents are always just as concerned about their children as they are concerned about themselves. However, too much affection given by parents will harm their children as they will refuse to work hard and always want to rely on their parents.

Receiving too much help from friends is similar to receiving too much affection from parents. Since these friends are all excellent people, they can always offer what we need so we lose the will to strive.

It is true that human beings are gregarious creatures and will always be affected by people around them, especially their friends, but they need to preserve their autonomy as well; so they should not always expect their friends’ help. What they need is necessary help rather than totally relying on their friends. In fact, everyone should live a life he or she wants and strive on their own to achieve it.

Aristotle also claimed that living with friends means sharing conversation and thought with them (Aristotle, 1170b. 12-14). When we face some important choices in our lives, it is good for us to receive as much good advice as possible.

However, if we receive too much advice at the same time, it is hard for us to make the right choice. As Aristotle said, people who have too many friends seem to have no friends at all because they always ingratiate themselves with others (Aristotle, 1171a. 17-18). In other words, to receive too much advice from friends is to receive no advice at all. In fact, catering to friends’ expectations puts a lot of pressure on us. The more advice we receive, the harder it is for us to make a decision. I believe that it is not always good to have too many friends because they may lead people to be irresolute.

George Washington warned that when he stepped down as president of the United States after his second term that making alliances was dangerous to the safety of his country.

A country should also avoid making too many friends in order to keep its autonomy. If a country has too many weak allies, it is hard for it to protect all of them at the same time. However, having too many strong allies is not wise as well. The Melians, an ally of the Spartans, were destroyed by the Athenians because they could not recognize that their friends were unable to save them. A country will become blindly optimistic when it relies on other countries and will be more likely to drift into war.

In conclusion, though friends are necessary, too many friends will destroy one’s self-sufficiency. Thus one will become indolent, irresolute and mistakenly optimistic. So it is always sagacious to make a certain amount of friends.

 

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