Book 9: Friendship or Love—Continued.
Lovers delight above all things in the sight of each other, and prefer the gratification of this sense to that of all the others, as this sense is more concerned than any other in the being and origin of love. In like manner, we may venture to say, do friends find living together more desirable than anything else; for friendship is essentially community, and a man stands to his friend in the same relation in which he stands to himself; but with regard to himself the consciousness of existence is desirable; therefore the same consciousness with regard to his friend is desirable; but it is in a common life that they attain this consciousness; therefore they naturally desire a life in common.
Again, whatever that be which a man holds to constitute existence, or for the sake of which he chooses to live, in that he wishes to pass his time together with his friends; and thus some drink together, others gamble, others practise gymnastics, or hunt, or study philosophy together—in each case spending their time together in that which they love most of all things in life; for, wishing to live in common with their friends, they do those things and take part together in those things which, as they think, constitute life in common.
Thus the friendship of those who are not good comes to be positively bad; for, having no stability of character, they confirm each other in things that are not good, and thus become positively bad as they become more like one another. But the friendship of good men is good, and grows with their intercourse; and they seem to become better as they exercise their faculties and correct each other’s deficiencies: for each moulds himself to the likeness of that which he approves in the other; whence the saying, “From good men thou shalt learn good things.”
So much, then, for friendship. We will now pass to the consideration of pleasure.