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Philosophy and Friendship

Sandra Lynch

Hardback (Printed to Order)

A philosophical exploration of the meaning and significance of friendship.

This book explains the persistence of friendship today in the light of the history of philosophical approaches to the subject. It considers ideals of intimacy and fusion in the context of claims that such ideals are unrealistic and even dangerous. Cicero's scepticism about friendship in the public realm is compared with the Aristotelian view of friendship as a genuine political bond, and with Derrida's development of that view via an exploration of Aristotle's alleged and provocative announcement 'O my friends, there is no friend'. Tensions between love and respect, identity and difference, a focus on the self and a focus on the other are closely examined.

From Aristotle to contemporary theorists, the book explores the conditions that enable the development of self-understanding in friendship, the delicate and unstable pairing of concepts like inclination and duty and distinctions between self-love, self esteem and self-concern in relations between friends.

Key Features

  • Recognition of the variety of the term 'friend' in the history of philosophy
  • The treatment of the tension between identity and difference in relations between friends
  • Discussion of the contribution of friendship to self-understanding.


PHILOSOPHY AND FRIENDSHIP - Thinking About Identity and Difference
PART I Identity and Difference in Philosophical Conceptions of Friendship
Chapter 1. - Approaching the Kaleidoscope of Friendship
Friendship: the Fluidity of the Concept
Ancient Notions of Friendship
The Aristotelian Taxonomy
The Kantian Taxonomy
Chapter 2. The Friend as Another Self
Friendship and Identification with the Other
The Friend as a Second Self
Elective Affinity
Friendship and Self-Sufficiency
Chapter 3. The Other Self as Friend
Difference: Threats and Challenges
Self Consciousness and its Implications for Friendship
Celebrating Difference
Friendship, Illusion and Fragility
PART II Friendship as an Ethical Relationship
Chapter 4. Re-imagining the Possibility of Friendship
The Moral Significance of Friendship
Aristotelian and Kantian Heritage
Intentionality and Inclination
Resolving Tension
Duty, Difference and Expectation
PART III The Relationship between Friendship and Self-Understanding
Chapter 5. Seeing Oneself as Friend
Friendship and the Constitution of the Self
Thinking Reasonably about Emotion
Emotions, Judgements and Characterisation
Reading the Other - Imaginative Transfer and the Integration of Reason and Emotion
Seeing Oneself as Friend - Self-love and Self-concern
Friendship, Self-Knowledge and Understanding
Chapter Six Friendship in Contemporary Life
Friendship and fragmentation
The ambiguity of friendship
Balance in an unstable enterprise
Concluding Remarks.

About the Author

Sandra Lynch has taught philosophy at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University. She is at present teaching and writing about the development of philosophical inquiry skills in schools. Her research interests lie in the areas of ethics, self-constitution, philosophy and literature and values education and she has published within these areas.