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The value of friendship (1 Viewer)

C

Coprolal1an

Perhaps you have wondered, "Why do we have friends?". Some would say that God (and/or morality) are the reason that we do, others would say that it is important to be selfless. However, the truth is that friendship is inherently selfish--friendship is only part of the way we are because it benefits either/both us and humanity. We make friends for a reason. In order to explain the value of friendship, you must first understand why certain characteristics of it (and friendship itself) are so consistent across various cultures; you must understand the origin in order to understand the more abstract components of friendship, such as empathy, sympathy, and trust.

What I will go over first (which is needed to break down the various facets of friendships) is the origin of friendship--the reason why we make friends. As Aristotle said in Nicomachean Ethics (books 8 and 9), we primarily make friends for 3 reasons: Utility, Pleasure, and [of] Good. Friendships based on utility are those which you might forge with someone who has a product you need--the type of friendship between a consumer and a vendor. Friendships of pleasure are what you have when two young children play together; an association based on the want of pleasure, of fun. The last type of friendship (so says Aristotle) is friendship based on good, friendship based on shared characteristics, similar ethics, desiring that your friends be good for your friend's sake; selfless acts. This is the type of friendship which most of us commonly think of when we hear the word "friendship". However, the pure altruism of these selfless acts do not exist; the closest this comes is reciprocal altruism, or the performing of a seemingly altruistic act without the expectation of immediate compensation. I say 'immediate compensation' because while this type of friendship may seem selfless, it is not unconditional--that is, there is the expectation that the beneficiary should return the act in a reverse situation. This type of "friendship" can be observed in nature, for example in vampire bats which may donate blood to each other if another is in dire need, though with conditions which I will not go over here.

The first component of friendship, which I will go over, is empathy--the understanding of anothers feelings. Empathy is (presumably) important at both the individual and group level, as in a group if any individual can understand the problems or feelings of another, then the troubled individual (and in turn themselves) are more likely to overcome.

The next element of friendship which I will go over is sympathy. Sympathy is "The association of sharing the feelings or interests of another." - training.finop.umn.edu/sip/defin.html. Sympathy can be seen as an extension of empathy, as while sympathy requires empathy, empathy itself does not necessitate sympathy--empathy is the understanding of anothers feelings, while sympathy is to be affected, moved, to share their feelings. Sympathy is beneficial in a friendship, because two people who are sympathetic towards each others feelings would most likely be more inclined to help each other in difficult times. Also note that if one friend is very sympathetic towards the other, and the other is not, that this will put a strain on the friendship (possibly ending it), thus empathy/sympathy can be seen as reciprocal altruism or part of the last type of friendship described in paragraph two.

The last element of friendship which I will describe is trust. Trust is required between friends, as it is a mechanism with which one can avoid cheaters, or those who would take advantage of your acts of (reciprocal) altruism or compassion (I separate these because while they are both connected, compassion is an emotion and altruism is an act, each with potentially different consequences).

In conclusion, friendship exists for the benefit of the individual and the group (to which the individual exists), therefor friendship is selfish, and its existence is entirely based on need, whether it be mutual defense, a support system, or just because of associated emotions; if we did not need friendship for these reasons, it would not exist, though these are fairly fundamental needs and as such friendship will most likely remain an important aspect of our lives.





I would much appreciate any criticism on both my grammar and my arguments, as this is a small project for my sophomore english class.
 
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Shinn

Senior Member
I agree with you on this, Coprolal1an.

When I make new friends, I like to ask them questions on what their interests are, hobbies, qualities, and such.
 
C

Coprolal1an

Thanks, my main concern was that I wasn't making any sense..
 

americanwriter

Senior Member
Take Ownership of Your Work

Perhaps you have wondered, "Why do we have friends?". Some would say that God (and/or morality) are the reason that we do, others would say that it is important to be selfless. However, the truth is that friendship is inherently selfish--friendship is only part of the way we are because it benefits either/both us and humanity. We make friends for a reason. In order to explain the value of friendship, you must first understand why certain characteristics of it (and friendship itself) are so consistent across various cultures; you must understand the origin in order to understand the more abstract components of friendship, such as empathy, sympathy, and trust.


My first suggestion would be to take ownership of your work here. I'm not talking about putting your name on it, but rather exchanging the passive voice you've adopted for a more direct approach. Begin by restructing your sentences and getting rid of all extraneous words. There's a sense of timidity to this piece. Don't be concerned about being controversial. It limits you. The whole point of writing, particularly making an argument, is to be challenging and incite discussion. Once you own the piece in your mind, give it to your readers. Your opening sentence :
Perhaps you have wondered, "Why do we have friends?".
Consider this:

[Revision] What compels you to make friends? Have you ever considered the question?[End Revision]

With respect to
Some would say that God (and/or morality) are the reason that we do, others would say that it is important to be selfless.
However, the truth is that friendship is inherently selfish--friendship is only part of the way we are because it benefits either/both us and humanity. We make friends for a reason. In order to explain the value of friendship, you must first understand why certain characteristics of it (and friendship itself) are so consistent across various cultures; you must understand the origin in order to understand the more abstract components of friendship, such as empathy, sympathy, and trust.
I think you've mischosen on the "morality" point. Morality and social responsibility are different.

[Revision]Many believe God compels them to make friends, thus fulfilling their obligation to "love one another and so fulfill the whole Law." Other's see the creation of friendships as selfless acts, a fulfillment of their social responsibility to nurture humanity devoid of any larger spiritual obligation. I contend that the building of friendships is a selfish act, an act of self-preservation, one which ultimately benefits both individual and humanity. To understand its benefits in the larger context of mankind, we must first understand friendship's benefit to the individual with respect to a person's need to trust and be trusted, their need for empathy and to impart empathy, and their need for validation and to validate other's worth through social relationships. [End Revision]

First, "empathy" and "sympathy" are synonymous. Don't forget to check your thesauraus from time to time. You also need to narrow your topic. When you got off into "abstract components" and the "origin" of friendship, and its characteristics being similar "across cultures" you were biting off way more than you can rationally handle in this body of work. I'm assuming you have some limitations placed on you by your instructor as to word count, deadline, etc? Some of your later opening remarks are redundant and need to be changed if you don't want your reader wondering if they didn't just read that paragraph. In the revised paragraph, you can now lead off onto a paragraph or two on trust, the need to trust and be trusted; a paragraph or two on empathy, the need for others to empathize with a person's circumstances and that person's responsibility to show empthy for others; and finally a paragraph or two on how friendships are a means of validation of self-worth and validating another's self-worth.

Hope this nickel's worth helps. Good luck with your paper.
 
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