Friendship: A History (Critical Histories of Subjectivity and Culture)
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Publish Year note: First published in 2010
The meaning and importance of friendship have become questions of increasing interest in recent years, as declining rates of marriage and parenthood have made the family less central and friends more so in the lives of many people, particularly in the western world.
Yet the history of friendship, and the ways in which it has changed its form and its meaning over time has only just begun to be discussed. Both historically and in the contemporary world, the language of friendship has not been confined to personal relationships. It is significant also in discussions or descriptions of a range of different ethical systems, social institutions and political alliances. The term 'friend' and others derived from it, such as 'mate' or 'comrade', have played an important role in establishing and characterizing particular religious organization, national cultures and political movements. The concept of friendship has been an important one in western philosophy, too. Indeed, for many philosophers, from Plato and Aristotle to G. E. Moore, friendship, or terms connected to friendship are crucial to the establishment of society and to the meaning of the good life.
As Jacques Derrida has argued recently, in relation to his book The Politics of Friendship, while 'friendship ...is marginal in the usual taxonomies of political concepts, as soon as you read the canonical texts in political theory starting with Plato or Aristotle, you discover that friendship plays an organising role in the definition of justice, of democracy even.'
This volume aims to combine an analysis of the major classical philosophical texts of friendship and their continuing importance over many centuries with a broader discussion of the changing ways in which friendship was understood and experienced in Europe from the Hellenic period to the present. It is the result of a collaborative research project that has involved philosophers and historians with special research interests in Classical Greek philosophy and in the history of medieval and renaissance, 18th century 19th and 20th century Europe.
including the reshaped forms of “civic friendship” that lay at the heart of the ethics of American reformers such as Jane Addams – flowed into other causes as well. The settlement house movement, for example, and the reform arguments of those women (and a few men) historian Maureen Flanagan described as “seeing with their hearts,” certainly took befriending to imply something other than preserving established patterns of privilege.22 On the one hand, their own friendships, founded in the shared
174–75, 178–79, 181, 184, 187–88, 197–98, 200, 202, 204, 232–35, 244–47, 255–56, 258–61, 263, 270, 280–81, 291, 293, 296, 303–11, 319, 331, 336–39, 343–46 as better suited to friendship, xii–xiv, 174–75, 179 Meyerowitz, Joanne, 298 Miles, H. D., 240 Mill, John Stuart, 247 Mitchell, Sally, 238–39 modern, 194–95, 200–202, 215, 224–25, 230, 236, 242, 249–50, 282, 290–92, 297–98, 300, 307, 310 modernity, 266, 270–72, 279, 281, 283, 285, 292, 300, 319 Mogey, J. M., 322 monasticism, 74, 81–82,
friendships. But they are not unique among Hellenistic philosophers in this regard: Cf. Diogenes the Cynic: “Other dogs bite their enemies, I my friends – so that I may save them,” Stob. 3. 13. 44, collected in G. Giannantoni, Socratis et Socraticorum Reliquiae (4 vols; Naples: Bibliopolis, 1990); Maximus of Tyre, The Philosophical Orations 14. 5 (trans. M. B. Trapp; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997); Themistius, The Private Orations of Themistius 22. 277 (trans. Robert J. Penella; Berkeley, CA:
felt ideas about friendship, which he consistently put into admirable practice within his own large group of epistolary friends. He concluded a Latin letter written in old age to Philippe de Cabassole by saying “Farewell, dear friend, and rest assured that, after the pleasure which comes from God and virtue … for me the most important is the possession of true and honest friendships.”69 But, as we have seen, this idea was already a commonplace in late medieval Europe, where it competed, while at
and one’s friendships, these, if not treatises, are to be found everywhere in the period – as one would expect, given the ancient models that they sought to emulate. The so-called Roman Academy of the late fifteenth century produced one such collection of sample letters in both Latin and Italian; Donato Giannotti in the next brought together his Latin epistles recreating a lifetime of friendships.72 John Donne, who once said that friendship was his second religion, believed, as he said to Sir