How should friends be regarded? With what importance should one view his friend? If one's friend seems as being at a lower degree than one's own - he wants to teach him how to behave more virtuously. Hence, he cannot be his friend, but a teacher. And if one sees one's friend as being at a higher degree than his own, and that he can acquire good qualities from him, then he can be his student.
Only when one sees one's friend as being at the same degree as one's own, one can accept the other as a friend and bond with him. This is so because a friend means that they are both in the same state, having the same views. Then, they decide to bond and act to attain the goal as one, which is what they both wish to gain. With the love of friends, they bond to create unity and all of the profits from dealing with the love of friends must be equally shared.
The appreciation of the society depends on its greatness and size:
1) To the extent that he feels the smallest among all the friends, he receives the appreciation of the greatness from everyone, because the lower one is impressed by the appreciation of the greater one.
2) Each one extols each friend's merit as though he were the greatest in the generation, impressed with the environment, as a great environment, since quality is more important than quantity.
It follows that in order for the society to help each friend, each one must view his friend as being at the same degree with him. But since they should learn from each other, he should consider the friend as greater than himself.
Question: How can I consider a friend as greater than myself, when I can see that my own merits and talents are greater than my friend's?
Answer: 1) Above reason: If one chose a friend, he must view him above reason. 2) Within reason: If he has decided to accept the other as a friend, and works on himself to love him, than it is natural with love to see only good things, since "love covers all transgressions."
It is similar to a person who sees faults in his neighbor's children, but does not see those of his own children. Indeed, each person has advantages and disadvantages, hence he lovingly sees his children's virtues, since that gives him pleasure. And the other one looking at the children as strangers, sees their faults, for that gives him pleasure. Each one sees only things he enjoys.
Hence, the law in the love of friends is to want to see the friends' merits and not their faults. If one sees some fault in one's friend, it is a sign that the fault is not in his friend, but in his own love of friends. Therefore, it's not that his friend should correct himself, rather, he should correct himself of his flaw he has created in the love of friends. And when he corrects himself, he will see only his friend's merits and not his faults.
Questions to discern:
When do you view your friend above reason?
How can I consider my friend as greater than myself, if I see myself as more talented and of better virtues?