I reflected yesterday and today on these posts I've been making about friendship, and was reminded of a major point Aristotle made (who St. Thomas calls "The Philosopher" by the way) about Friendship, in his book on Ethics.
In a nutshell, he said one of the main mistakes people make about friendship is mistaking what kind of friendship it is in the first place. He delineates three kinds of friendship: friendship of pleasure, friendship of utility, and friendship of the good. The third one is the ideal, which the first two should tend towards.
He does accept the legitimacy of the first two kinds, but notes one of the fatal mistakes people make is in misconstruing the nature of the relationship.
People need people. If your car breaks down, you may need a friend to give you a ride. If you're bored, if you need someone to just hang out with to relax, there are plenty of average folk out there that will do just fine. That other person doesn't need to be very wise or virtuous, as long as the nature of the friendship isn't misunderstood.
I confess that has been one of my mistakes. My Myers-Brig temperament is INFJ, which is called "Idealist-Counselor." I'm wired to think in high ideals, with lofty, optimistic expectations. Pragmatism isn't part of my DNA. We're all different. After all, there's something like 16 personality types.
Is it even possible to have more substantial friendships today, of the third kind described by Aristotle? Not necessarily a sublime communion of holy men, but a meeting of sincere minds and hearts, united along a common path towards similar, virtuous goals, those goals being in tune with Our Lord. The older I get in this dark age we live in, the more I realize that is a rare gift. But likewise, I also understand more and more how important it is, so I continue to hope and search for these kinds of friendships.
They can be found. It might be someone unexpected. Someone who may not even be religious. A coworker, a neighbor, a pen pal you meet in a forum.
But at the same time we need just pals to talk to, to hang out with, as long as there is a mutual respect of each other. But even that is a special fortune, since "respect for each other" does require at least a basic amount of Christian civility.
Friendship. It's a lost habit, a forgotten virtue. But I still believe in it, as I do any other Christian truth. I'll always seek out good friends, because being a good friend to others is part of what it means to be a good man.
What are your thoughts on friendship?