For Epicurus, friendship is a major way to ataraxia, or tranquility in life: “Of all the things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.” Aristotle developed a sophisticated theory of friendship, recognizing three types: of pleasure, of utility, and of virtue. The first kind applies to situations in which one is a person’s friend because of the direct pleasure that friendship brings — for instance because you like people who are good conversationalists, or with whom you can go to concerts, and so on. Friendships of utility are those in which one gains a tangible benefit, either economic or political, from the relationship. … For Aristotle, though, the highest kind of friendship was one of virtue, where you are friends with someone because of the kind of person he is, because of her virtues. I suspect it is largely the latter — most precious and difficult to achieve — that Ware’s patients had in mind during the last few weeks of their lives.
(Image by Balla Dora Typo-Grafika)