Part I: friendship as natural for the human person

Aristotle, Cicero, and Saint Augustine seem to agree that man as an individual has a natural inclination to associate with others. Aristotle states this clearly in his Nicomachean Ethics when he writes that “man is by nature a social and political being.” This idea is crucial not only to his ideas about friendship, but also to his political theory, for he says that the polis (or Greek state) is built of associations between men and that for this reason the polis is a natural entity. Cicero joins him in his assertion that a person seeks the company of others. In his essay on friendship, Cicero mentions that “friendship takes its beginning from our very nature…” and that “nature abhors solitude.” Thus friendship is viewed as a phenomenon that satisfies a person’s innate need to associate with others. The social nature of the human being is also mentioned by Saint Augustine, who teaches “that the person, while being an absolute… is also and essentially a being… related to others, open to others, and defined as person by his very relativity.” In other words, man is himself only to the extent that he is in relation to others. All of the above statements lead to the conclusion that man has a natural desire to relate to others and that friendship is the way in which this need is fulfilled.

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