Thursday, 2 June 2016

Interesting Passage from Nicomachean Ethics

In this passage Aristotle talks about debt and credit in ancient Greece, the attitude expressed is so very different from today's that I thought it would be interesting just as a point of comparison:
there seem to be two kinds of friendship based on utility, one related to character, the other to law. Complaints arise especially when people dissolve relationships in a spirit different from that in which they entered into them.

The type related to law is that on fixed terms. The purely commercial kind involves hand-to-hand exchange, while the more generous kind allows for time to pay, but is based on an agreement of the terms of exchange. In the more generous kind, while the obligation is clear and indisputable, the credit granted contains an element of friendship. This is why some cities do not allow legal actions in these cases, but think that people who have made a contract on trust ought to be content with the outcome. (NE 1162b, trans Roger Crisp)
 I wonder when if ever loans would be made if they were on these terms nowadays, likely very rarely, and almost certainly between good friends.

1 comment:

  1. Another:

    the extreme of friendship is close to friendship of oneself, there would seem to be friendship in so far as someone is regarded as a plural entity. (1166b trans Roger Crisp)