After the culture wars of the past two decades, a turn toward a more constructive and convivial social analysis and critique is occurring today. Along with such themes as cosmopolitanism and ethical politics, the idea of friendship has emerged as central to this new constructivism. Lying at the intersections of ethics and politics as well as eroticism and companionship, friendship involves the personal and the public, sacrifice and joy, need and choice, spirit and body. While giving pleasure, it can also make great moral demands on us all.
While friendship was often discussed by the ancients, moderns have had much less to say on the topic. Leading us into a dialogue with the ancients, the contributors offer a series of far-reaching encounters. Nietzsche debates the meaning of friendship with Socrates; Horatio fulfills the ancient desideratum of the “true friend” in telling Hamlet’s story; and philia
becomes the core of a radical ethic through a reconstruction of Marx’s Epicurean ideals. Friendship is also analyzed as the model of a non-narcissistic psychology, on the one hand, and of a “mafia of idealists”—the French Resistance—on the other. Moreover, milieus of friendship are revealed as a unique crucible of creativity for the Benjamin-Bloch cohort in 1920s southern Italy, for Wittgenstein and his Cambridge followers in the 1930s, and for American jazz musicians of the 1950s.
Contributors. Dwight Allman, Fabio Ciaramelli, Marios Constantinou, John Ely, Agnes Heller, Clara Gibson Maxwell (with Ornette Coleman), Peter Murphy, Louis Ruprecht Jr., Jean-Pierre Vernant