Friendship and Happiness From a Philosophical Perspective

  • Sandra LynchEmail author


This chapter explores the relationship between friendship and happiness from a philosophical perspective, recognizing that philosophical concepts inform the psychological literature. It argues for a similarity between happiness and friendship which is related to the role of intentionality in each phenomenon, since both are characterised by an uncertain mix of desire and expectation on one hand which impacts upon the possibilities for satisfaction on the other. The etymology of the word happiness suggests the sense in which our happiness is not entirely under our control and is therefore in a complex relationship with affect; while the achievements of friendship are taken to include the capacity to respect difference and an expectation that we will experience disappointment as well as pleasure, given that some conflict will arise. Friendship provides a unique context within which we can appreciate both our similarities and differences from others, our potency and yet our limitations and vulnerability in relations with others. In this sense friendship is connected both with positive affect and with Aristotelian eudaimonia, which associates happiness with the good things of life, with flourishing and good fortune but also goes beyond the immediate satisfactions of life to consist in having what is valuable for its own sake.


Friendship Happiness Aristotle Intentionality Pleasure 


  1. Annas, J. (1995). The morality of happiness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1985). Nicomachean ethics. In J. Barnes (Ed.), The complete works of Aristotle. (Bollingen Series LXXI, 2). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Badhwar, N. K. (1987). Friends as ends in themselves. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 48(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brink, D. (2008). Mill’s moral and political philosophy. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Accessed 17 March 2013.
  5. Deiner, E., & Chan, M. (2011). Happy people live longer: Subjective well-being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3, 1–43. doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2010.01045.x.Google Scholar
  6. Demir, M., Orthel, H., & Andelin, A. K. (2013), Friendship and happiness. In S. David, I. Boniwell, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 860–870). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Demir, M., & Özdemir, M. (2010). Friendship, need satisfaction and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 243–259. doi:10.1007/s10902-009-9138-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Demir, M., & Weitekamp, L. A. (2007). I am so happy cause today I found my friend: Friendship and personality as predictors of happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 181–211. doi 10.1007/s10902-006-9012-7.Google Scholar
  9. De Montaigne, M. (1965). On friendship. In The complete essays of Montaigne (trans: Donald M. Frame). Stanford: Stanford University Press. (Original work published 1580).Google Scholar
  10. Derrida, J. (1997). The politics of friendship (trans: George Collins). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  11. Diener, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Money and happiness: Income and subjective well-being across nations. In E. Diener & E. M. Suh (Eds.), Culture and subjective well-being. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Eagleton, T. (2011). Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Finnis, J. (1983). Fundamentals of ethics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Frankfurt, H. G. (1999). Necessity, volition, and love. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fredrickson, B. L. (2003). The value of positive emotions. American Scientist, 91, 330–335. Accessed 16 March 2013.
  16. Fumerton, R., & Donner, W. (2009). Mill. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Helm, B. W. (2010). Love, friendship and the self. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hinde, R. A. (1997). Relationships: A dialectical perspective. Hove: Psychology Press (Taylor & Francis Ltd.).Google Scholar
  19. Irvine, W. B. (2009). A guide to the good life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D., Schwarz, S., & Arthur, A. (2006). Would you be happier if you were richer? A focusing Illusion. Science, 312, 1908–1910. doi:10.1126/science.1129688.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kant, I. (1991). The moral law (trans: H. J. Paton). London: Routledge Press. (Original work published 1785).Google Scholar
  22. Lent, R. W. (2004). Toward a unifying theoretical and practical perspective on well-being and psychosocial adjustment. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 51(4), 482–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Long, A. A. (1986). Hellenistic philosophy: Stoics, epicureans, sceptics (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Lucas, R. E., Dyrenforth, P. S., & Diener, E. (2008). Four myths about subjective well-being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 2001–2015. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00140.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lynch, S. (2005). The philosophy of friendship. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maio, F. C., Koo, M., & Oishi, S. (2013). Subjective well-being. In S. David, I. Boniwell, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 174–182). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. McMahon, D. M. (2013). The pursuit of happiness. In S. David, I. Boniwell, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 252–262). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Mendelson, M. J., & Kay, A. C. (2003). Positive feelings in friendship: Does imbalance in the relationship matter? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20, 101–116. doi:10.1177/02654075030201005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mesquita, B., & Markus, H. R. (2004). Culture and emotion: Models of agency as sources of cultural variation in emotion. In A. S. R. Manstead, N. Frijda, & A. Fischer (Eds.), Feelings and emotions: The amsterdam symposium (pp. 341–358). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mill, J. S. (1991). Utilitarianism. In J. Gray (Ed.), John Stuart mill on liberty and other essays (pp. 131–201). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Nussbaum, M. C. (2001). Upheavals of thought: The intelligence of emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pangle, L. S. (2002). Aristotle and the philosophy of friendship. West Nyack: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Parfit, D. (1984). Reasons and persons. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2013). Happiness experienced: The Science of subjective well-being. In S. David, I. Boniwell, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of happiness (pp. 134–151). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Railton, P (1993). Alienation, consequentialism and morality. In N. K. Bahhwar (Ed.), Friendship: A philosophical reader (pp. 211–244). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Sachs, J. D. (2012). Introduction. In J. D. Sachs, J. F. Helliwell, & R. Layard (Eds.), The world happiness report (pp. 2–9). Earth Institute: Columbia University. (Report commissioned by the UN General Assembly for the April 2nd United Nations Conference on Happiness). Accessed 3 Feb 2013.
  38. Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish. North Sydney: Random House Australia.Google Scholar
  39. Schopenhauer, A. (1958). The world as will and representation (Vol. I) (trans: E. F. J. Payne). New York: Dover Publications. (Original Work published 1818).Google Scholar
  40. Silverstein, M. (2000). In defense of happiness: A response to the experience machine. Social Theory and Practice, 26(2), 279–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stern-Gillet, S. (1995). Aristotle’s philosophy of friendship. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  42. Vernon, M. (2005). The philosophy of friendship. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Weidler, D. J., & Clark, E. M. (2011). A distinct association: Inclusion of other in self and self-disclosure. New School Psychology Bulletin, 9, 36–45. Accessed 19 June 2013.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Faith, Ethics and Society, School of Philosophy & TheologyUniversity of Notre Dame, AustraliaeBroadwayAustralia

Personalised recommendations