ETHICS DISCUSSION ONE WEEK 5
Erected in the centre of the marketplace, it depicted two friends, Harmodius and Aristogiton. They stood next to each other, striding forward with arms raised and hands clutching daggers.
At the political heart of their city, the Athenians had erected neither a sitting president in a temple, like Lincoln, nor a solitary admiral on a column, like Nelson. Rather, they had an image of a friendship. At the time these friends had lived, six centuries earlier, Athens was ruled by a dynastic tyranny. It had been established by a man called Pisistratus, and he had passed it onto his sons, Hippias and Hipparchus. The beginning of the end for the younger dictators came when Aristogiton, one of the ﬁgures in the statue, slew Hipparchus, one of the brothers. It was this act the Athenians commemorated. But why the two friends, and not just the one who’d ridded the city of the tyrant? In fact, the tyrant-slaying friends were probably motivated more by personal passion than revolutionary fervour. According to Thucydides, one of the tyrants was in love with Harmodius and was close to forcing Harmodius to return that love. When he insulted Harmodius’ sister instead, the friends decided to act together and kill the other ruler, Hippias. The date they chose was the feast of the Panathenasa in July 514 BCE since on that day citizens could bear arms in the city without rousing suspicion. They told a few collaborators about the plan, asking them to foment a more general revolt in the chaos that would follow the deed. But then the friends saw one of their fellow conspirators talking to Hippias. They panicked, thinking that they were betrayed. Full of fury, they switched targets and rushed off to ﬁnd Hipparchus, whom they killed. One of the firstname.lastname@example.org friends, Harmodius, died in the ﬁght and Aristogiton was cap- tured, tortured and then executed. The tyrannicides had appar- ently failed, though as it turned out they had destabilised Hippias’ hold on power. Four years later the dictatorship fell and Athens was free. The statue was remarkable because the original, made by the master sculptor Antenor, was the ﬁrst public monument in Athens commemorating mortals, not gods. This anthropocentric shift was prompted by the high esteem which Harmodius and Aristogiton rapidly assumed; they came to be regarded as the founding heroes of Athenian democracy. Legend quickly mixed with the historical event itself. Herodotus records how Hipparchus had been warned of his doom in a dream. He’d seen a tall and beautiful man standing over his bed who murmured: ‘O lion, endure the unendurable with enduring heart; No man does wrong and shall not pay the penalty.’ Later, Athens was sacked by the Persians, and Xerxes carried the original statue off to Susa. But as soon as the Athenians took repossession of their city, they commissioned a replacement. It was as if they didn’t believe they were secure unless the city was decorated with this emblem of liberty. ‘Truly a great light shone in Athens when Aristogiton and Harmodius slew Hippias,’ sang Simonides of Ceos, getting his history slightly wrong. The two were symbolically embraced in the songs that were sung at sym- posia. Indeed, the friends were celebrated more than Cleisthenes, the man whose reforms, in truth, played a greater part in securing Athenian democracy than anything they did. To enquire into the form and function of classical friendship is to enter contested territory. Scholars of the highest calibre radically disagree. Statues aside, the bulk of the evidence rests on surviving texts which immediately raises a problem. The Greek for friend, philos, has at least as wide a range of asso- ciations as its English equivalent. It can be applied to fellow- citizens as in the Shakespearean invocation, ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’. Equally it could refer to a friendship of the most intimate kind: ‘But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All Politics of Friendship 157 email@example.com losses are restored and sorrows end’ (Sonnet 30) So it is hard to discern whether the use of the word ‘friend’ in the political sphe\ re denotes merely a kind of patronage or something more personal and intimate. Context alone can decide. However, context allows us to imagine that one of the reasons why an image of friendship resonated so strongly with the Athenian taste for freedom was that the experience of being a citizen was closely interwoven with the experience of being a friend. To be an ancient Athenian was to be a citizen and to be a citizen was to take part actively in the collective life of the city, to the extent that an Athenian’s political wellbeing was for the most part more important to him than his economic wellbeing. Of course, a man had slaves and women to attend to his domestic affairs when he was away exercising the right to vote, sitting on juries or attending important events like the games and the festivals of plays. But taking part in the life of the polis was a way to build social standing that neither wealth nor family could match, not least because wealth and family were inherited, whereas networks of friends could be built up. Little wonder Democritus describes citizens becoming physically ill when absent from public life. Or, as the contemporary historian Christian Meier sums it up: ‘Where we today introduce our econ omic and other interests into politics, the citizens of Cleisthenes’ era politicised their own\ persons.’ Friendship of various sorts therefore assumed a prominent role in public life. One factor to bear in m ind is that friendship would have played a key element in political activity simply because the number of people involved in politics was relatively small, certainly by today’s standards. To take part in ancient democracy, a citizen could not avoid personal considerations, for good or ill. More substantially, friends provided support and expected support in return. Xenophon credits Socrates with such a utility-based account of friendship in his Memoirs of Socrates:
although good friends are to be judged superior to any other pos- session someone might have, it is in relation to what they give that they are valued, he says. Similarly, public shows of loyalty The Meaning of Friendship 158 firstname.lastname@example.org were an important characteristic of those one would call friends.
The tale of Orestes and Pylades is an extreme case in point. Orestes, the story goes, was contemplating killing his mother to avenge his father. Pylades demonstrated his close friendship with the dis- gruntled son by offering unequivocal, public support for the act:
‘Embrace the enmity of mankind/Rather than be false to the word of heaven,’ he advises according to Aeschylus. It’s within a similar context that aphorisms of the time make sense: ‘Gold can be put to the proof by ﬁre, but goodwill among friends is tested by circumstance’, and, ‘Reversals test friends’. A friend could be\ come a foe if they failed to stand by you. All in all, it is quite natural for Aristotle to include a couple of chapters on politics in his discussion of friendship, an inclu- sion that to the modern mind might be something of a non sequitur. As there are three kinds of friendship, he says, so there are three kinds of politics – in descending order: kingship, aris- tocracy and timocracy (or rule by the wealthy). Friendship pro- vides a model from which political arrangements take a lead. In the best case, the just and good king thinks of his subjects in the same way that the just and good friend thinks of his com- panions. In an aristocracy and timocracy, social goods are assigned according to position or property respectively, in a way that is parallel to the hierarchical organisation of the workplace, and with similar effects on friendships. Conversely, these polit- ical arrangements can all collapse, into tyranny, oligarchy and democracy respectively. (Note that for Aristotle, democracy was unlike our own form of representativedemocracy, in which the masses elect politicians, as it was simply rule by the masses.) Again, these types of politics can be thought of in a way that is analogous to friendship. A tyrant is like a friend who only consid- ers their own interests not the interests of others. An oligarchy operates as a cabal, that is as a closed circle of friends. A demo- cracy is the most conducive to friendship of the three, though it also has its ﬂaws since majority rule inevitably alienates the minorities who do not agree. Further, like gangs of friends, democracy can be subject to the whims of the crowd. Politics of Friendship 159 email@example.com It was for such reasons that Aristotle believed that if you cared about your community or society you need to care about the virtue of civic affection too. And vice versa: the kind of community you live in will have a bearing upon the friendships you enjoy. After all, he argues, mutual concern is the best reason that people have for wanting to live together anyway, and a happy city-state will be one in which people do more than merely associate with each other for commercial reasons or mutual defence. He wants citizens to have a concern for their fellows’ character too, in order that the\ y might not only live, but live well. He would want citizens to be proud of their fellow nationals who are exemplars in some way, perhaps having won a race at the Olympics. And citizens should be dismayed at the unethical behaviour of others, not just because of the injustice, corruption or exploitation involved, but because it does, in a sense, diminish everyone. When a country successfully hosts the Olympics, any citizen of that country might enjoy the credit. Whilst a country heads up the league table of carbon produc- ers, any citizen of that country might sense the collective shame. This quality of civic connectedness is different to, say, the concern for the human rights of others important though those are: it’s not about rights but affections. And it is deeper than, say, the groundswells of sentiment evoked by the media when a per- sonal tragedy, like the death of a rock star, sweeps around the world. The goodwill Aristotle wants people to embrace looks to a citizen’s spiritual wellbeing. The ancient Greek institution of the symposium is fascinating in this respect. Symposium literally means ‘drinking together’, though these dinner parties were more than occasions when indi- viduals met to feast. Food, drink and entertainment were vehicles that provided common ground for the main purpose of the even- ing, namely, quality conversation. The alcohol was consumed rit- ually, in order to steer the participants along the ﬁne line between enough alcohol to loosen the tongue and crack personal reserve, and not too much alcohol, which reduces conversation to abuse or incoherence. Fine wine was not the only thing that encouraged the right intimacy. The layout of the rooms in which symposia The Meaning of Friendship 160 firstname.lastname@example.org were hosted did so too, with couches facing inwards so that sight- lines crossed. The participants also drank out of the same cup, a shared act with religious overtones, enforcing a sense of reci- procity: the drinking vessel was sometimes referred to as the philotesia which could be translated as the ‘cup of friendship’, a phase that we still have today. Songs were sung, not least those referring to Har modius and Aristogiton. ‘He who does not betray a man who is his friend has great honour among mortals and gods’, goes another one, if losing its metre in translation.
The symposium was a place in which friendships, alliances, soli- darities and comradeship could be forged and fed. Its political dimension was found in the bridge it provided between what we would now think of as the public and private arena. It took place in the privacy of the host’s house; to be invited was to be wel- comed into his personal life, perhaps for friendship. The gesture is not wholly unlike the difference between going out for dinner with someone, or meeting them at a reception, and inviting them to a dinner party at home. The latter carries overtones that the cocktail party does not. Not that the symposium was necessarily friendly. Enemies could ﬁnd themselves at the same do too. This was the case at the sym- posium about which we know more than any other, the one Plato creates in his eponymous dialogue, the Symposium. The host was Agathon, life-long friend and probably lover to Pausanias, another person who was also there. Two other old friends present were Eryximachus and Phaedrus. Their presence is worth noting since, a year after the date on which Plato sets the Symposium, they were exiled for the religious crimes of profaning the Eleusian Mysteries and mutilating Herms: they were friends and conspira- tors. Next to Agathon lay Socrates and during the dinner the philo- sopher rather belittles his host, perhaps because he had also invited Socrates’ archenemy, Aristophanes, though at least they talk on this occasion. The last person to make an appearance, later on, was Socrates’ sometime love interest and sparring partner, Alcibiades.
He arrives drunk and then drinks more, showing that the propriety of even a symposium could be broken. Politics of Friendship 161 email@example.com What we might say is that ancient friendship appears to have been neither wholly private nor wholly public. Quasi-institutions of friendship, like the symposium, linked the political with the per- sonal. Political philosophers, like Aristotle, advocated a kind of civic affection on top of the rights and responsibilities of which political rhetoric is largely composed today. Thus, if today, the remarkable thing about democracy is that it is a way of life volun- tarily shared by strangers, in ancient Athens, friendship played a widespread, if sometimes compromised, role in the life of citizens.
It was not always easy. Often it made enemies. But because politics was assumed to be close to friendship, when functioning at its best, philosophers like Aristotle sought to articulate just what conditions might sustain and support the link between the two. This effort is not something that many muse on today. Our relationships as citizens are mediated between by impersonal institutions, like the law, possibly with detrimental effects on our affections for one another as a result.
Garden friendship The political dimension that friendship enjoyed in classical times did not pass without comment. It had its critics, one of the most prominent of which was Epicurus, a philosopher who lived a few years after Plato and Aristotle. For him, the city was far from being the place in which people could live well. Instead, he regarded politics as antithetical to friendship, a point well sum- marised by his later follower, Philodemus of Gadara:
If a man were to undertake a systematic enquiry to ﬁnd out what is most destructive of friendship and most productive of enmity, he would ﬁnd it in the regime of the polis.
It was the shenanigans of the human ‘political animal’, meant in the pejorative sense, that worried Epicurus. By the time he was writing, the somewhat idealised imagine of things described by Aristotle had ceased to be viable. Athens had fallen to Alexander The Meaning of Friendship 162 firstname.lastname@example.org the Great, whose domain extended across the known world and integrated it to a degree that had not been seen before. The local nature of political life was undone, and with it much of the old- style affection. Individuals like Epicurus tended to regard them- selves as citizens of the world, though with perhaps no place they could call home, and few compatriots they might call friends. The situation was more like our own.Epicureanism was in part an attempt to forge a new sense of identity, and when it came to friendship, Epicurus preached a retreat from ‘the prison of affairs and politics’. He might have sympathised with Ronald Reagan’s comment: ‘Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the ﬁrst.’ Hence, unlike Socrates who taught in the market place, and Aristotle who taught in the city, Epicurus established his philosophical school in a place he called the Garden, a deliberate antonym to ‘city’, and although we\ know relatively little about it, he clearly cultivated a way of life founded on the friendships that he believed could only ﬂourish in that context. Another critique of the politics of friendship comes from Plato.
In the Republic, which can be thought of as an extended exercise in fantasy politics rather like Thomas More’s Utopia, he excludes friendship as a political force. Instead, personal relationships of a different sort come to the fore, namely, those of family. Plato sug- gests that citizens, and certainly the ruling classes, should think of themselves as belonging to one big family, to such a degree that they share partners and children and think in exactly the same way on any issues that confront them. The advantage of such an extreme sense of mutual identity is that the city will be protected from its worst fate, being divided and torn apart. On this criterion, friendship does not fair well since its exclusive nature can readily nurture division and dissent. He takes a different stance on friendship in the city again when he broaches the subject in the Laws. This work is generally taken to be an attempt at an applied political philosophy, as opposed to an idealised one. The description of friendship it presents seems to Politics of Friendship 163 email@example.com resonate closely with the way friendship probably functioned in ancient Athens. For example, in the Lawsfriendship is regarded as a valuable, not dangerous, social force since it makes for the hap- piness of citizens. Legislators are urged to keep ‘friendship in view\ ’ in the decisions they make and to make allowances for it. Citizens are similarly encouraged to value the services of their friends, an attitude conducive to civic affection. The Laws also sounds notes of realism. Plato advises that friend- ship between a master and a slave is inherently ﬂawed, no matter the intentions either may have. In a similar vein, he deals with ambiguous aspects of friendship. Friends know each other well, he observes: this means that a good friend might testify to another’s virtuous conduct; but it also means that someone will know enough to reveal the weakness of their ‘friend’ should that be necessary, say, for the sake of justice. One might ask how Plato can espouse these views and the apparently opposite attitude he has towards friendship else- where, not least in the Symposium. It is most likely that he is deliberately exploring different ways of looking at things. And this seems to be the way the ancient Athenians treated the matter as a whole: if you are going to make friendship central to your politics, you had better consider the risks as well as the rewards.
The end of an age If we leap forward three centuries and into the Italy of the late Roman republic, it seems that friendship again had a more public role than today, and again, that had an upside and a downside.
The aristocratic classes participated extensively in politics, not least because many public ofﬁces – the equivalents of represent- atives and councilors – were held for only short periods of time, and thus required a large supply of candidates. Thus, though differently from Athenian democracy, late Roman republicanism was highly participatory for the ruling classes and encouraged circles of what the Romans usually referred to as ‘clients’, again\ a The Meaning of Friendship 164 firstname.lastname@example.org Politics of Friendship165 category within which friendship would inevitably exist and thereby gain public standing. Coupled to this, the great political events of the day, such as battles in court, were publicly staged and could attract widespread attention. A defendant would call on friends as witnesses, and on clients to side with him in the crowd. Of course, these public dis- plays of amity did not necessarily mean that the individuals con- cerned were bosom buddies. An opponent with bigger pockets, greater charisma, or other winning ways could conjure up ‘friends’\ as needs required. Cicero, for example, remarked more than once that he longed to see the individual he regarded as his true friend, Atticus, because he was sick to the back teeth of the cloying affec- tion of ‘these politicking and powdered-up friendships’. However although Romans could be sceptical about political friendship, they were not merely cynical about it in the way Disraeli implied when he commented that there are no permanent friends in pol- itics, only permanent interests. In fact, public abuses of friendship could have serious repercussions for someone’s political standing to an extent that is, again, hard to imagine given the private nature of friendship today: to be accused of being a poor friend, and bad at friendship, was to lose public standing. A good example of this is Cicero’s Second Philippic, a defence of himself against the accusation that he had violated the friendship of Mark Anthony, lover of Cleopatra. After the death of Julius Caesar, Anthony had plans to seize power, which the republican Cicero resisted in a speech to the senate on 2nd September 44 BCE .
A furious Anthony counter-attacked a couple of weeks later, cast- ing aspersions upon Cicero’s friendship. Cicero replied by writing a pamphlet – the Second Philippic – though on the advice of Atticus it was not published until after his death. The argument is complex but basically turns Anthony’s accusa- tion around: he counter-accuses Anthony of betraying their friend- ship, having calculated that no one would support his claim to be Caesar’s successor unless he had publicly become Cicero’s enemy.
To support his case, Cicero lists other ways in which Anthony was a ﬂawed friend. He says Anthony had read out loud the private email@example.com letters that Cicero had sent him. Not that any goodwill exists now: Cicero is quite willing to ﬂing mud at his erstwhile friend, accusing Anthony of winning people’s loyalty by inviting them into his bedroom, among other things. Such was the mire into which late republican politics descended. However, even then, the obligations of friendship carried weight in public discourse and breaches of friendship could still count severely against someone at a social level. What is more, if an individual was accused of such a betrayal, they would not brush it off as tittle-tattle, or leave it to the diary pages. Like Cicero, they would go to great lengths to restore their virtue even when the original affection was clearly long gone; even, in Cicero’s case, posthumously. It was in this environment that the philosophers celebrated friendship, and puzzled over it. It was because friendship was so important that the effort was deemed worthwhile. It was not that they lived in a perfectly friendly society: far from it. However, they did aspire to something nobler than typically they managed to exercise in practice. And they held onto that nobler vision of a friendly politics. It is perhaps like the great Italian cities of the Renaissance: they were often bloody places, but they were ani- mated by a humanistic spirit that encouraged them to strive for what at times seemed beyond them – witnessed to by the legacy of their great works of art. If Cicero had trouble with Mark Anthony, which was eventually his undoing, his more aspirational side left a digniﬁed and con- structive legacy for the philosophy of friendship too. He wrote a dialogue, with a main speaker imagined as one Gaius Laelius, a Stoic philosopher born a hundred years before him – a literary device which perhaps signals that although Cicero knew he was no great exemplar when it came to ideal friendship, he knew the ideal needed rehearsing in his own time for individuals aspiring to a higher life. And this rehearsal of good friendship he at least did well:
Friendship is … complete sympathy in all matters of impor- tance, plus goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to The Meaning of Friendship 166 firstname.lastname@example.org think that with the exception of wisdom, the gods have given nothing ﬁner to men than this.
I have heard this longer quote from Cicero’s dialogue being used as a reading in a service celebrating the commitment of two friends: As for myself, I can only exhort you to look on friendship as the most valuable of all human possessions, no other being equally suited to the moral nature of man, or so applicable to every state and circumstance, whether of prosperity or adver- sity, in which he can possibly be placed …Whoever is in possession of a true friend sees the exact counterpart of his own soul. In consequence of this moral resemblance between them, they are so intimately one that no advantage can attend either which does not equally commun- icate itself to both; they are strong in the strength, rich in the opulence, and powerful in the power of each other. They can scarcely, indeed, be considered in any respect as separate indi- viduals, and wherever the one appears the other is virtually present. I will venture even a bolder assertion, and afﬁrm that in despite of death they must both continue to exist so long as either of them shall remain alive; for the deceased may, in a certain sense, be said still to live whose memory is pre- served with the highest veneration and the most tender regret in the bosom of the survivor, a circumstance which renders the former happy in death, and the latter honoured in life.
Cicero believes friendship springs from nature rather than need, citing the association of animals as proof, nature’s counterpart of human life in the city, though he also suggests that people who enjoy good friendships must not be too needy. He clearly has the ambiguities of friendship in mind – ‘in friendship there can b\ e no element of show or pretence; everything in it is honest and Politics of Friendship 167 email@example.com spontaneous’ – and the ambiguities of political friendships which are examined in some depth: The most important thing in friendship is the p reservation of a right attitude toward our inferiors.
It is incumbent upon those who are the superiors among friends or relatives to avoid making any invidious distinctions between themselves and their inferiors … similarly it is incumbent upon the inferiors not to take umbrage at the fact that others surpass them in natural endowments, fortune or rank.
That Cicero dwells on relationships between individuals of dif- ferent social standing is more proof, ﬁrst, that these relation- ships counted for something in Roman life and, second, that Cicero was alarmed at the way political amity could be eroded.
Hence throughout his dialogue there is the sense that friendship is under threat because of events as much as because it demands ﬁne balances. That his argument is set in the past, recalling a ‘truly remarkable friendship’ between Laelius and Publius Scipio, is another indicator. As is Laelius’ talk of ‘deadly perils’ ov\ er- hanging friendship. It is ironic that the tyrannicidal atmosphere of Cicero’s day placed such stresses upon public friendships, whereas one of the most enduring public images of friendship for the Greeks was of two tyrannicides. Cicero was right to be concerned. Soon after he died, the hori- zontal politics of the republic were replaced by the vertical gov- ernment of empire and with the rise of imperial Rome came the demise of these forms of political friendship. Roman society became highly stratiﬁed under the emperor, obliterating aristo- cratic participation in governance on a large scale along with the matrix of friends, clients and enemies that overlaid it. Public rela- tionships were clouded by the tensions between the senate and the emperors, with sincerity compromised by deference, goodwill by distrust, and loyalty by obsequiousness. The political virtues of friendship, and its value for life in the community, ceased to carry The Meaning of Friendship 168 firstname.lastname@example.org their praiseworthy value; individual interests became permanent.
So, although one should be wary of summarising these changes and their impact in a few lines, it does seem right to highlight a certain privatisation of friendship in the new Roman empire. Evidence for this is found in two epistles that Seneca, the tutor of Nero, wrote in 63–65 CE just over a hundred years after Cicero. One, entitled, ‘On Grief for Lost Friends’, pretty much speaks for itself. Seneca himself was well acquainted with grief: he was nearly executed by Caligula, banished by Claudius, and ﬁnally ordered to commit suicide by Nero. In the letter he argues that grief for a friend is either self- indulgent, a kind of phoney proof to ourselves or others that we truly loved the deceased, or, more sadly and perhaps more appositely for Seneca, it is a sign that someone has no other friends left, or no candidates for new ones. The pervading politics directly affects the opportunities for friendship. Politics of Friendship 169 Figure 12: ‘I hope I’d have the courage to choose my friend over my country\ ,’ said E. M. Forster, implying that friendship and citizenship had become \ opposing concerns. email@example.com In the second epistle, ‘On Philosophy and Friendship’, he picks up on Cicero’s belief that people have friends out of nature not need but takes this self-sufﬁciency to extremes that again seem to reﬂect the animosity of his times. First, he argues that the virtuous person can do without friends, though he may not wish to, the implication being that many have to nonethe- less. Second, he says that friends offer a way of exercising noble qualities; again, the implication is that ignoble times do not afford many opportunities for public displays of friendship.
Third, he adds that friendships which are made for their own sake, and not for an individual’s advantage, insulate people from the full effects of bad fortune. And again, it is in bad times that such a reﬂection makes most sense. Moreover, Seneca argues that winning friends is a matter of will not luck. ‘Just as Phidias, if he loses a statue, can straightway carve another, even so our master in the art of making friendships can ﬁll the place of a friend he has lost.’ One does wonder what quality of friend ship is possible under such circumstances? The golden age of friend- ship, such as it was, is well and truly over by Seneca’s time. Every cloud has a silver lining, and there is a more positive side to the retreat of friendship from the public. For example, when operating mainly in the private sphere, the range of individuals one might count as friends seems to have been extended. In another letter, Seneca compliments one Lucilius for living on friendly terms with his slaves. They are unpretentious friends, Seneca says, fellow-slaves as far as fortune is concerned:
That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave. But why should they think it degrading? It is only because purse-proud etiquette sur- rounds a householder at his dinner with a mob of standing slaves.
Aristotle would have been astonished at this: if amity can shape social expectations, so can social expectations shape the friendships it is thought ﬁt to have. We see as much to this day, The Meaning of Friendship 170 firstname.lastname@example.org inasmuch as friendships across social classes and ethnic divides are relatively rare. Another more positive outcome of the changing times was the gradual emergence of friendships between men and women, so much so that it became possible to think that husbands and wives might routinely think of themselves as friends as well as lovers.
Hence Plutarch, writing about the same time as Seneca, outlines three forms of marriage in his Marriage Precepts. The ﬁrst is purely sexual. The second purely contractual. However, the third and best type is one of total unity between husband and wife who are bound together by love: their marriage is like ‘a rope of inter- twining strands’. Plutarch still implies that such a relationship has\ less value than friendship between men, but it is clear that the combination of warmth and strength that his ideal of marriage implies must be embedded in a reciprocal friendship. Again, Aristotle would have been surprised. For him, the ideal relationship between husband and wife is one marked by affec- tion, but it is determined by the ‘natural’ superiority of the man\ over the woman. He likens it to the relationship between rulers and subjects in an aristocratic constitution. The man rules and only gives over to his wife those parts of life that are ‘ﬁtting’\ for her, parts of life that seem pretty limited. If a women should hap- pen to rule over the household because she has inherited it, for example, Aristotle says that the situation is like the degenerate form of aristocratic constitution, an oligarchy not based on excel- lence but power. Aristotle cannot be our wise guide on all matters of amity.
Public kisses So much for what we can learn about friendship and commu- nity from the ancient Greeks and Romans. What of the second period in which there is a marked interest in friendship, namely, the ‘silver age’ of the Middle Ages? Something different is going on here, I think. Friendship was important at a social and polit- ical level as a result of two factors. First, certain activities like Politics of Friendship 171 email@example.com eating and sleeping, that are today carried out in private, then had a distinctly public dimension. This leant a corresponding degree of socialsigniﬁcance to the friendships that could accrue around doing these things together, and hence friendship became a matter of discussion. Second, a strain of religious piety that put a high value on friendship developed during the Middle Ages, simultaneously raising questions about friendship. This religious piety never quite gained the status of theological orthodoxy, though it got close in the work of Thomas Aquinas. However, at a popular level it informed an attitude towards friendship, and even semi-institutionalised ‘marriages of friendship’, that are remarka\ ble when compared with the status friendship has today. It is the work of the late historian, Alan Bray, that has brought much of this otherwise forgotten history to light. His posthumous book, entitled The Friend, may well prove to be one of the most important books on the subject for many years, and certainly does much to expand our imaginations as to what we might make of friendship again today. He identiﬁes a tipping point for the move from the medieval to the modern social attitudes towards friend- ship in the second half of the seventeenth century. And he tells a story, recorded in the memoirs of Sir Anthony Weldon. In his memoir, Weldon describes a farewell. It was between the King, James I, and the Earl of Somerset, Robert Carr, and took place on the staircase of the King’s hunting lodge at Royston, Hertford- shire, in the autumn of 1615. The farewell was marked by an apparently deep display of affection. Weldon records the Earl kissing the King’s hand and the King hanging about his neck ‘slab-\ bering his cheeks’ and saying ‘For God’s sake when shall I see \ thee again? On my soul, I shall neither eat nor sleep until you come again.’ In fact, the exchange was particularly noted by Weldon because he thought the King’s farewell a charade: it turns out that Carr fell out of favour at court almost as soon as the two apparent friends had parted. However, this is precisely what makes the incident so interesting for us. Given that the King’s farewell was an act, it is wrong to interpret the exchange as that of two friends lost in the spontaneous signs The Meaning of Friendship 172 firstname.lastname@example.org Politics of Friendship173 and sentiments of overwhelming affection: public embraces and declarations that eating and sleeping will cease until reunited again were not indicative of some nascent sexual ambiguity or excess of affection, as we who now show reserve with public kisses, let alone sleeping together, might imagine. Rather the King was performing ges tures of social patronage, protection and loyalty. Carr, and those who looked on, would have taken them as signs of the King’s connection with him, though not necessar- ily affection for him. The physical intimacies of kissing and eating and sleeping together were symbolic of what we might call social capital; Francis Bacon called it ‘countenance’ and others ‘hono\ ur’. Now, although countenance and honour did not primarily depend on personal friendship, they did not exclude it either.
Between James I and Robert Carr it seems there was little love in the autumn of 1615. However, when people were friends too, such practices could indeed be tokens of affection. This is the opportunity for friendship: it could then gain social, as opposed to purely personal, standing. Consider the signiﬁcance of these signs in their own right.
The kiss is perhaps the most demonstrative but it is not primarily a kiss of affection, as we might exchange kisses on cheeks today.
Rather, it needs to be seen in the light of the kiss of peace at the Eucharist. This was a sacramental part of the Mass. When the priest ‘shared the peace’ with the people, they greeted one anothe\ r with a kiss as a sign of the union of the Trinity that Christian people sacramentally participated in too. This same kiss in the social setting expressed a reality that says ‘we are united even as God is united’. It may or may not express a narrower sentiment and add ‘I am fond of you’. Eating and sleeping together were similarly signs of social con- nection, and not mere emotion. Take the eating. The dining table was placed at the symbolic heart of the medieval household. It was a place in which everyone from lord to serf ate, each in an allotted place that reﬂected their relationship, and its obligations, with superiors and inferiors. The great halls and high tables of university colleges today are the legacy of that tradition though they do not email@example.com quite capture the full signiﬁcance of the sign. Eating together was not just a representation of pre-existing social relationships.
Communal eating constituted those relationships in the same way that the food which was eaten changed into the bodies of those who ate it. To be called up higher was to be called into a deeper connection. And if that included friendship, that relation- ship was given a corresponding boost in its social standing too. Similarly with sleeping together. People used to share the same (very large) beds or sleep on pallets in the same room, whence the origins of the epithet ‘bedfellow’, which means ally or associate.\ To do so was a sign of social proximity. John Evelyn, the seven- teenth-century diarist friendly with Margaret Godolphin, cele- brates the time that he had ‘a private audience with his Majesty in his bed-chamber’: it was the pinnacle of his countenance at Court.
But once again, being bedfellows might not be just a sign of social standing. If it also included friendship, that friendship then carried the social weight ‘of the bed’, as it were. So, the seven-\ teenth-century Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, dreamt of again sharing his bed with the Duke of Buckingham because he longed for his friendship. They were presumably not lovers. Clearly, this symbolic world is long gone. In fact, it disappeared rather quickly – hence the tipping point in the second half of the seventeenth century identiﬁed by Alan Bray. The question he poses is why it disintegrated to such a degree that the meaning of kissing, eating and sleeping together became unintelli gible, even scandalous, just a hundred or so years later? Moreover, what have we lost in the process? It’s possible that the cause was a growing fear of homosexual- ity. We’ve already raised the possibility that homophobia can distort friendships, particularly between men. However, although ‘sodomites’ did come to be persecuted with a vengeance around this time, that was probably a product of the change rather than a cause: as these signs lost their social intelligibility, the idea spread\ that anyone might be a pervert, whereas before the sodomite had been a strange, alien creature, and certainly nothing to do with unabashed signs of affection and connection. However, we can The Meaning of Friendship 174 firstname.lastname@example.org suggest that that is, arguably, one thing we have lost, at least in the west: the public expression of affection by men towards one another. Another possible cause might be as prosaic as the changes that took place in the layout of houses. This had the effect of moving what had taken place in public spaces into private quarters: ser- vants moved off pallets and into dormitories; grand staircases became back stairs; great halls in which gentlemen served food to all became private dining rooms attended on by servants. These changes were certainly noticed. Visitors to Britain from abroad, where the changes had yet to take place, such as François de la Rochefoucauld, were surprised by them since they had not yet been seen on the European continent. Similarly, the French writer and popular orator, the Comte de Mirabeau, expressed astonish- ment that Englishmen had ceased to greet each other with a kiss and used instead a strange shaking of the hand. But again, these are products of change not causes of change. Bray believes that the fundamental cause is to be located in the way the life of the body itself changed. A whole range of bodily activities including eating, drinking, toilet and sleeping stopped taking place inside what might broadly be called the space of the extended household and started taking place within the much narrower conﬁnes of what might be called the ‘marital space’. A\ s a result, bodily intimacy ceased to be an instrument that could be used to carry wider social meanings, including friendship, and came to be associated primarily with the more limited concerns of married couples. In other words, public institutions of friendship were replaced by the private institution of the family. In the seventeenth century and before, people lived in a multiplicity of networks and fraternities according to their status, their age, their work or their luck. It is important to remember the high rates of death in childbirth too, which meant that husbands might often marry several times and that children could be routinely raised by a number of different people including stepparents, relations or friends. These various connections were held together by the fundamental unit of society, Politics of Friendship 175 email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship176 the extended household, which in turn created lots of space for friendship to play an important social role. One gets another feel for these lost times in the work of another contemporary historian, John Bossy. He has also charted the changes in the west over this period and notes, for example, that in the latter Middle Ages, fraternities were hugely popular, the product of a widespread desire to enjoy formalised friendships that went beyond the limitations of kinship and the hierarchical stric- tures of feudalism. Celebratory meals and affectionate greetings did not only allow individuals to bond alongside family and ﬁefdom but also served to mitigate the civil unrest that was an ever present threat, particularly when the hand of the law could be quite distant. It is also within this context that the relationship between John Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin can be understood. These two Restoration ﬁgures had an extraordinary passionate and chaste friendship in spite of the fact that Evelyn was married. John, Margaret and his wife Mary did on occasion experience jealousies, as the quote from her letter at the start of Chapter 2 shows. But to the modern mind it is remarkable that, ﬁrst, John and Margaret could associate so freely in and around London without rousing suspicion and, second, that Mary could come to count Margaret as her friend too and write the following to her husband:
She is now yours in spirit and the bond of friendship as she is mine, and how can I be happier? … you both want something of each other, and I of you both, and I hope in God we shall all be the better for one another, and that this three-fold cord shall never be broken.
What happened in the seventeenth century is that these notions of the extended household collapsed. Social ties and solidarities were replaced by marital bonds and the boundaries of the family; the threefold cord was replaced with a tie, for two. Physical intimacies that were part of the public, symbolic world of friendship – in particular kissing and sleeping together – came to be seen as the firstname.lastname@example.org Politics of Friendship177 prerogative of husband and wife, excluding friendship in the process. This, then, explains the rise of homophobia. The meaning of affectionate connection between men was undone and, if sub- sequently displayed, was left hanging undecided. The world had changed and with it a public space within which friendship could ﬂourish largely disappeared too: it was relegated to the strictly private. Though it is easy to think that the modern world is one in which there are more opportunities for freer relationships, it is quite possible that the medieval mind would see our world as more constrained, at least in this respect. Another way of looking at this is to consider how the meaning of the word ‘society’ changed over the same period. The older meaning is simply ‘being together’. To say, ‘I enjoy your socie\ ty’ was to say ‘I enjoy being with you.’ Friendship was, therefore, a form of society. But during the seventeenth century, society came to carry structural and organisational overtones too, as in civil society or industrial society, meanings that eventually became dominant and marginalised the dimensions of friendship. The philosopher John Locke is seminal in this evolution of the word.
His 1690 publication, Essay concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government, is instructive. In chapter VII, ‘Of Political or Civil Society’, he discusses what he takes to be the origins of what he calls civil society: ‘The ﬁrst society was between man and\ wife, which gave beginning to that between parents and children, to which, in time, that between master and servant came to be added.’ In other words, he takes what he sees as the ﬁrst society \ of Adam and Eve, in the Bible, and uses that as a model for civil society as a whole. Note the binary structure – man and wife, parents and chil- dren, master and servant. One can clearly see the priority being given to what we now call the nuclear family, and the nuclear family as the basis of society to boot. However, that is not the only thing to notice. In turning the ‘ﬁrst society’ into a mode\ l for ‘civil society’, he changes the sense of the word society: the\ ﬁrst society was company; political society is organisational. It evolves from being something that tangibly exists in the company email@example.com or companionship of two or more individuals to being an abstrac- tion or framework within which upright individuals will ﬁnd a sense of who they are and where they belong. In short, instead of people having society, they think of themselves as in a society.
Again, lost opportunities for nurturing friendship is arguably the result. The changes to the marriage laws are a tangible example of the difference. Before Locke, marriages were ﬁxed rather infor- mally between individuals, again part of the pre-modern culture of ﬂexible kinships and friendships. Afterwards, though, mar- riage changed and could only be contracted after the bureau- cratic rituals of reading banns and signing registers, and in the presence of a clergyman, also called a Clerk in Holy Orders. He was the ofﬁcial representative of the new form of society within which the marriage was explicitly located. So the Lockean move can be thought of as doubly detrimental to friendship. First, it makes a binary notion of family the basis of society, excluding friendship. And second, that society is conceived of as an omi- nously bureaucratic entity that has few means of understanding, let alone nurturing, friendship.
Sworn brothers The story does not stop there. The most recent research of historians like Bray is showing that something else was lost in these changes too. It seems that the political standing, and social nurturing, which friendship could gain was only part of it. Within the same milieu, friendship did not just piggy-back on certain sym- bolic practices but was semi-institutionalised in its own right. This brings us to the second factor that had a bearing on friendship in the Middle Ages, namely, the ‘marriages of friendship’. Once more, the history is quite a discovery, not least since it was a widespread religious piety that underpinned it. Bray’s lead into this unexpected dimension of medieval friend- ship is his research into shared graves. Shared graves, as opposed to common graves, are those in which two people are buried The Meaning of Friendship 178 firstname.lastname@example.org together as an explicit demonstration of the friendship that they shared in life. Once you start looking for them, Bray found, they start appearing everywhere – in churchyards, crypts, cathedrals and chapels. Consider the fourteenth-century monument above the tomb of Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe: it could not be missed in the church of the Dominicans in Constantinople were it was located. These two English knights died in 1391 and what is remarkable about their funerary monument is the way that their shields, which are carved on it, incline towards each other. Sim- ilarly, the crowns of their helmets meet as if in a kiss. These heraldic arms show that Sir William and Sir John were in life what was known as ‘sworn brothers’, a voluntary form of kinship based upon an exchanged promise of committed friendship. These kind of sworn brotherhoods were afforded great respect in pre-modern Europe. They existed along side marriage – there is no evidence that they were exclusive relationships – and were even tacitly sanctioned by the Church: the kiss of the helmets shown in Constantinople is like the kiss of peace from the Mass, the sign of divinely sanctioned connection. In the west, the kiss of peace exchanged before receiving communion together was in fact the action that sealed the sworn brotherhood, that gave it social standing. Sir William and Sir John went to such a Mass and made such a commitment in their youths. In Eastern Ortho- dox Christianity, copies of prayers that were speciﬁcally written for the creation of sworn brothers and sisters survive to this day. So great was the political weight that such friendships could bear that they could effect changes in much the same way as a marriage. Another story Bray retraces demonstrates as much, from ﬁndings he made in Hereford Cathedral. Here, beneath the magniﬁcent fourteenth century bishop’s throne, there is another mysterious tombstone. Inscribed on it are two hands clasping, above which is written the words, ‘In life united, in death not divided’. This monument is the shared grave of Herbert Croft, bishop of Hereford, and George Benson, the dean of Hereford cathedral. Politics of Friendship 179 email@example.com They died and were buried in the 1690s. Croft and Benson lived in tumultuous times, the English Civil War. Hereford Cathedral had witnessed the violence of those years: the library had been sacked and looted; monuments were defaced and destroyed; Croft and Benson had both come close to being murdered. So, their shared grave is, on one level, an expression of the friendship forged in those years. But it is also much more than just a touching memorial to a private relationship. At the time, it was a powerful, political statement. Today, we may have grown used to arguments in Christian churches. But during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the church was often, literally, at war with itself. In particular, the bishops of the church took up arms against the deans of its cathedrals. The arguments were usually over land and control.
In 1328, for example, the Archbishop of York had to use force to enter Hereford Cathedral. He was, after all, a Lord claiming his estate. The battle over Hereford was particularly long-lasting and intense. Two hundred and ﬁfty years after York’s forced entry, in 1559, bishops were still refused a way. One wrote to Queen Elizabeth’s powerful secretary, William Cecil, accusing the dean of Hereford and his canons of ‘blasphemy, whoredom, pryde and ignorance’. He could walk about Hereford city only with a guard. But then in the second half of the seventeenth century the unthinkable happened. The bishop and the dean had found a settlement to the battle that had been going on for 500 years, and they became close friends in the process.
We do not know the exact details of the reconciliation, but we can now see how important their tombstone is. It is, in effect, a command to all subsequent bishops and deans: do not revisit the old quarrels of the past. That is why it was placed beneath the bishop’s throne: Croft and Benson’s successors would literally have had to step over it. Not only were Croft and Benson not divided in death, but the bishops and deans of Hereford should never again be divided in life. Their private friendship, therefore, The Meaning of Friendship 180 firstname.lastname@example.org carried enormous political signiﬁcance: it effected a political reunion quite as strong as medieval marriage.Sworn brotherhoods existed up to the seventeenth century.
Another example, in the chapel of Christ’s College, Cambridge, is the grave of John Finch and Thomas Baines from 1682. It is topped with a single ﬂaming funerary urn that represents the mingling of their remains. The inscription reads:
So that they who while living had mingled their interests, fortunes, counsels, nay rather souls, might in the same manner, in death, at last mingle their sacred ashes.
Another reﬂection of the popularity of the ideals of such sworn friendships is Jeremy Taylor’s Discourse of Friendship. When it was published in 1657, it was reprinted several times in quick succession. He wrote:
The more we love, the better we are and the greater our friend- ships are; let them be dear and let them be perfect … it would be well if you could love and if you beneﬁt all mankind; for I conceive that [heaven] is the sum of all friendships.
There is further evidence that friendships were sworn between women too and right into the nineteenth century, though less frequently and less publicly. The well documented friendship between Anne Lister and Ann Walker, recorded in enormous detail in the diary of Anne Lister, was one such. Bray believes that a sworn sisterhood is what Lister was referring to when she conﬁded in her aunt that she and Walker had decided to settle as companions for life in a friendship that ‘would be as good as marriage’. On Easter Sunday, 1834, they solemnised this com- mitment by receiving communion together in a church near York Minster. ‘I had prayed that our union might be happy’, she wrote. In other words, although their sworn friendship did not command the social signiﬁcance that it might have done up to one hundred years before, the old religious forms of Politics of Friendship 181 email@example.com making a ‘promise of mutual faith’ were still available. They were still part of the public imaginary, still part of friendship.
The piety of friendship So how are we to understand the philosophy, or rather theology, of friendship that underpins this commitment? This is where the element of religious piety comes in. During the medieval period, a number of Christian writers had reﬂected upon the importance of friendship in the monastic setting. Consider the writings of Anselm, the sometime Abbot of Bec and Archbishop of Canterbury who died in 1109. He is often remembered today for his ‘proof’ of the existence of God, which roughly runs that God must exist because existing is the greatest possession anyone can have, so God, of all beings, must have it. But when not proving God’s existence, Anselm was a proliﬁc letter writer to his monastic brethren. It is these letters that provide us with his thoughts on friendship. What is notable about them is an extravagant use of, again, apparently affectionate terms: ‘eye to eye, kiss for kiss, embrace fo\ r embrace’, he signed off one. As between James I and Robert Carr, this kind of language is easily misunderstood and it is wrong to read it as sexual. Anselm’s kisses are the same expression of con- nection, this time sealed by the monastic setting – a literal union o\ f monks linked by their monastic vows and communal life. The extravagance of the language is an expression of the extravagant reward their commitment will bring them, the everlasting joys of Heaven. In fact, and not unlike like James I and Robert Carr, it is possible that Anselm was not primarily thinking of human affection at all in these terms of spiritual endearment, strange as that may seem.
When in 1093 he moved from Bec to Canterbury, many of his brothers suspected that he did so with little real regard for them as individuals. Anselm himself did not want the job, though not because he would miss his friends but mostly because of the dangers it would bring him. When he left, his brethren wondered The Meaning of Friendship 182 firstname.lastname@example.org whether his ‘friendship’ with them was based more in their being religious brothers than personal friends. Anselm’s theology of friendship is esoteric: his high doctrine was extended only to his monastic peers and even then there are grounds for thinking that he was drawn to a piety of spiritual con- nection that tended to diminish the friendships themselves. This arguably changes with Aelred of Rievaulx, for who the two elements fuse together. He was born in the year Anselm died and at the age of 37 was elected abbot of Rievaulx, a monastery of some 300 Cis- tercian monks, the remains of which stand to this day outside Thirsk in Yorkshire. His great work on friendship, Spiritual Friendship, was written soon after he arrived at Rievaulx. It is inspired by Cicero:
if Cicero had written an account of friendship addressed to the late Roman republic, Aelred wanted to do the same for a Christian society. However, he is innovative too. Several things stand out. First, he argues that friends should be willing to die for each other.
His model in this respect is the life of Jesus: ‘A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’, as the write\ r of John’s Gospel has it. This saying has been co-opted today to express the sacriﬁce made by soldiers in war but in John’s Gospel it means\ something rather different. It is actually a comment on the demands of discipleship. Earlier in John’s Gospel Jesus says that he does not\ call his disciples servants but friends. Why? ‘I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.’ In other words, the friends of Jesus both understand who he is and are prepared to pay the price of living by that conviction – even to the point of death. It is for this reason that ‘friend’\ was almost a synonym for ‘Christian’ in the early, persecuted Church.
Aelred implies the same should be true in his time. Other things that Aelred thinks should be typical of friends follow from this. The love between friends should be undying in the sense that ‘he that is a friend loves at all times’. Even if someone is unjustly accused, injured, cast into ﬂames or cru- ciﬁed in ways that implicate their friends, as was the case for Jesus, the friendship should not cease or else it was ‘never true friendship’. Politics of Friendship 183 email@example.com Third, Aelred thinks that friends should share all things in common. This was a pattern of behaviour that was established in the very earliest days of the Church and is recorded in the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles. In Aelred’s vision of friendship, sharing things in common comes to represent how friends are other selves to each other: ‘And the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that aught was his own, but all things were common unto them.’ Conversely, Aelred is suspicious of lesser kinds of friendship, such as Aristotle’s friendships of utility and pleasure. He believed that people either share true friendship or carnal friendship, the latter seeking worldly pleasures and material gains – sex and work- place advantages as I have described them here – and not love of another human being for who they are in themselves. Part of the reason for this rather harsh stance is that Aelred is very conscious of the Christian doctrine of original sin. After the fall of Adam and Eve, Aelred speculates, love ‘cooled’ and a range of evils includi\ ng avarice, envy, contention, emulations and hates made inroads into love and ‘corrupted the splendour of friendship’. It would be hard\ to beat such a summary of the ambiguities of friendship. At the same time, Aelred did not think that such ambiguities should be taken as to the detriment of friendship per se. In this way, he was in line with Thomas Aquinas rather than Augustine. Rather, they are themselves a reﬂection of his high ideals of friendship: he thought that friendship appeared ﬁrst in the Garden of Eden, and so, although fallen friendship is certainly fallen, it is also a remem- brance of the paradisical time that was. Moreover, he goes so far as to hold that God is friendship, like Thomas. So a friend is a guardian of heavenly love and friendship is a taste of paradise:
Come now, beloved, open your heart, and pour into these friendly ears whatsoever you will, and let us accept gracefully the boon of this place, time, and leisure.
It used to be thought that Aelred’s writings on friendship were a romantic vision of friendship within the cloister. But it now seems The Meaning of Friendship 184 firstname.lastname@example.org that his account of friendship was just one part of a more wide- spread piety, linked to the practice of sworn brotherhood. Thus, many people, not just monks, developed a devotion to their friends that they might interpret in a similar way to Aelred, and incorporate amity into their shared lives together. That, in turn, is behind the phenomenon of shared graves. For Augustine, the death of a friend provoked a profound personal and theological crisis. But for Aelred, the death of a friend, something he also experienced, was the culmination of love, witnessed to by the love that lives on in the heart of the surviving friend. For all the agony of mourning, the death of a friend is an experience of eternity in the present. As Cicero put it, ‘Even when he is dead, he is still alive.’ Friendship’s greatest gift is, thus, that it lift\ s the veil between this world and the next and provides a foretaste of the everlasting love of heaven here and now. It is in this context that shared graves and the rites of sworn friendship in the Mass make the fullest sense. The shared grave is not just a private, romantic gesture of friendship at the end of two lives. It is the natural, ﬁnal resting place of friends whose commitment in this world was both their ideal, amidst the Politics of Friendship 185 Figure 13: ‘Even when he is dead, he is still alive.’ Cicero, pictured here a\ s a reading youth. email@example.com difﬁcult demands of relating to others, and hope, as a foretaste of the love to be shared in eternity. Similarly, sharing the kiss of peace and receiving communion together was symbolic of the ethic that shaped their relationship with each other, their obligations to others, and ultimately their faith in God. So seeing friendship within this Christian frame is not to paint it in pietistic gloss. Rather it adds a new dimension to the practice of friendship that builds on the advantages afforded it by the social conventions of pre-modern society. Friendship could not only become attached to various political demonstrations of connection, and so gain some public standing. It could achieve a semi-institutionalised status that far from being exceptional was part of a wider social order that many people understood and warmed to, whether or not they were sworn friends themselves.
Again then: in the sense that the Middle Ages provided a social space within which friendships could be nurtured, we can see that it too was arguably more open to friendship in a way that was constitutive of society. The issue of what has been lost, and its relevance to friendship today, needs to be pursued further: that is a matter for the next chapter. However, before we come to that, there is one more twist to add to the tale of sworn friendships. I mentioned the friendship of Anne Lister and Ann Walker:
there are two elements to draw out further in relation to it. The ﬁrst I have already referred to, namely, that their friendship existed in the nineteenth century, 100 years after the tipping point when conventions changed: how can this be? The second is the one thing that anyone who has read about Lister and Walker knows: their friendship was sexual. So again, how could they take advantage of this form of friendship to secure their union when even suspicion of the sexual element could have branded them as sinners? The two things are connected. For one thing, although social conventions changed, the reason sworn friendship was not erad- icated entirely is that religious pieties are not easily dislodged:
friendship may have stopped carrying much social weight but that The Meaning of Friendship 186 firstname.lastname@example.org Politics of Friendship187 does not mean the sentiments that lay behind sworn friendship were abated. This meant, in turn, that although sworn friendships disappeared from view, that could be an advantage to those like Lister and Walker who both wished to celebrate their love in valid symbols, and did not want to draw too much attention to it, because it contained a sexual element.
In fact, Lister and Walker were not buried together. Anne died of a fever in Georgia after their 15-month journey together across Europe in 1840. As Bray suggests, it is signiﬁcant that the other Ann did not leave her body there but went to the enormous lengths of having it returned to Halifax and buried in the church where they made their vows. Walker no doubt intended to be buried there alongside her – not just as a gesture of love and grief,\ but as the ﬁnal and culminating act of their friendship. email@example.com 188 Prophetic Friendship ‘Every real friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion.’ \ C. S. Lewis The ﬁnal frame of Ridley Scott’s movie Thelma and Louise is frozen: it holds a ‘66 Thunderbird car in midair above the Grand Canyon, lit brightly in orange pink sunshine. Thelma and Louise are in it. Behind and above them in patrol vehicles and heli- copters are the massed ranks of the police who have chased them across the state. The two women are seconds from certain death.
And yet just before they ﬂew over the edge, they warmly embraced and smiled: ‘You’re a good friend’, Thelma said, to which Louise replied, ‘You too, sweetie, the best.’ In other words, to see them only as about to die is to miss the moment. They are actually going to their freedom – the eternity of the ﬁnal frozen frame. It captures the high point in their lives and their friendship has brought them to it. The friendship of these two women, who were tired of being vic- timised by men, is evident from the opening scenes of the ﬁlm.
Thelma, played by Geena Davis, and Louise, played by Susan Sarandon, clearly know each other better than their respective husband and boyfriend know them. Their sense of one another is knit together to the extent that they can be critical of each other without ever questioning their bond. ‘Friends share everything in common,’ noted Plato. They have shared the road, a rape, a robbery and rude truck-drivers. It has brought them to that point high in the air. So what is it about their very modern friendship that ﬁnds its culmination in a glorious and deﬁant suicide? The answer is a form of protest, based on friendship, that might be said to have begun to take shape in the very different time and place of Anne Lister and Ann Walker. (That Thelma and Louise’s ’66 Thunderbird becomes a ‘shared grave’ is particularly evocative). firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship189 Lister and Walker loved each other and borrowed the rites and sen- timents of a form of friendship that used to be regarded as a pious celebration of two people’s connection to make a commitment.
That such sworn friendship had mostly disappeared in the nine- teenth century in which they lived was convenient: it could be used to express the seriousness of their intent without having to seek the blessing of a society that would not give it. But their act was not just one of convenience. It was also a kind of complaint.Relationships like theirs were becoming suspect and so theirs inevitably assumed a prophetic edge too. Lister and Walker prob- ably thought of their sworn friendship as a kind of resistance; a way of quietly defying a society that sought to keep women and friendship in check. And a few years later such personal resist- ances had developed into a form of public protest which by the end of the twentieth century had evolved again to affect real change. It was as if the disappearance of the semi-institutional commitment of friends as part of the make-up of society, and the forgotten tradition of the Romans and Greeks who sought to cele- brate friendship in their politics, made way for the reappearance of friendship as an important driving force in the demands of people who sometimes quietly, sometimes militantly, sought recognition and respect for their lives. In short, we can see a complete about turn: the constitutive role that friendship had played becomes sub- versive, the means of circumventing the new social norms that would outlaw its love, being based on a particular conception of the family and rigid roles for men and women. This movement, which we will now explore, has much to tell us about how friend- ship functions in modern society and also what friendship can be for us. To cut to the point: friendship holds out a promise for us of what a politically fairer, and emotionally richer, good life can be.
Suffragette city The women’s groups who fought for suffrage in the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries provide a focus for the way in which personal resistance became public protest. email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship190 Friendship here becomes a relationship from which individuals ﬁnd resources to refuse oppressive social conventions. For a long time, suffragettes found little support within the cor- ridors of power. Their public protests were often met with annoyed bemusement, even in circles that might be thought sympathetic.
One newspaper of the time, The Referee (which carried the laudable strapline ‘The paper that makes you think’), reports an incident \ in June 1914 that is typical. A liberal demonstration at Denmark Hill in South London was being addressed by David Lloyd George, who was to become British prime minister. These liberals, though, were far from tolerant of women’s demands. ‘At the outset Lloyd George had to submit to a Suffragist interruption’, the paper reports, ‘b\ ut the interrupters were quickly chased away from the scene.’ There followed a series of ‘extraordinary scenes’ including one Revd Mr Wills being seized ‘by people in the crowd and thrown into the pond at the back of the grounds of Bessemer House’.
When he got out he came to blows with the man who pushed him in, and Mr Wills was very roughly handled.
Another male sympathiser followed the reverend gentle- man into the pond, and a Suffragette had a lot of her cloth- ing torn off. The stewards were helpless in preventing the public from maltreating the interrupters.
Little wonder, then, that friendship was an important source of solidarity and succour amongst these women and their relatively few supporters. The record of one friendship in particular has survived the passage of time and provides further details of how they func- tioned in this milieu. It was between two ‘Ultras’ (so-called because they were radical even for suffragettes), Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
These celebrated women are of about equal ages, but of the most opposite characteristics, and illustrate the theory of counter- parts in affection by entertaining for each other a friendship of firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship191 extraordinary strength. Mrs. Stanton is a ﬁne writer, but a poor executant; Miss Anthony is a thorough manager, but a poor writer … To describe them critically, I ought to say that oppo- site though they may be, each does not so much supplement the other’s deﬁciencies as augment the other’s eccentricities.
Thus they often stimulate each other’s aggressiveness and at the same time diminish each other’s discretion.
Stanton and Anthony met in May 1851, the early days of the American women’s movement before the Civil War. They were both already leading lights within it and their meeting was for- tuitous: the Ultras were moving into the ‘collective action stage’, as Michael Farrell calls it in his book Collaborative Circles.
Stanton and Anthony’s friendship was central to this gearing up for battle and by the end of that ﬁrst summer they had become close friends: Anthony stayed at Stanton’s for much of July and August where she quickly became known as Aunt Susan to Stanton’s several children. Thereafter their relationship could even be said to have been marriage-like in certain ways, though not sexual. For example, Stanton ensured that there was a room for Anthony permanently at the ready for when she came to stay. Their friendship ﬂourished on a number of levels. One was personal: Stanton describes how she and Anthony comforted each other when other members of the group wanted to tone down their ﬁery proclamations.
For Miss Anthony and myself, the English language had no words strong enough to express the indignation we felt in view of the prolonged injustice to women. We found, however, that after expressing ourselves in the most vehement manner, and thus in a measure giving our feelings an outlet, we were reconciled to issue the documents at last in milder terms.
Another level was practical. Stanton had family commitments to juggle with her political engagements and could not devote as much time to travelling and speaking as Anthony. In contrast, email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship192 Anthony felt inadequate in writing speeches. So their friendship enabled them to divide the labour. Anthony would do much of the research for the speeches, and Stanton would come up with the drafts: ‘She supplied the facts and statistics, I the philosophy and rhetoric, and together we have made arguments that have stood unshaken by the storms of thirty long years … the united products of our two brains.’ So the friendship was also vital when it came to their activism.
Together they devised a programme of annual conventions at which participants gave speeches and read poems: the women realised that this mode of social action was effective both in terms of developing their philosophy and in terms of presenting women in different public roles. (Contemporary newspaper reports express surprise that women are actually as good at oratory as men.) The friendship was also a forum to discuss their experiments in how to dress and behave in public. Similarly, they talked about how women could set their own agenda in the pursuit of happiness, something that had hitherto been the prerogative of men. All in Figure 14: ‘We have indulged freely in criticism of each other when alone.’\ Elizabeth Candy Stanton on her friendship with Susan Anthony, pictured h\ ere. firstname.lastname@example.org all, their friendship was a private powerhouse driving a prophetic way of life. Having said that, the demands of the life they chose could cast a shadow over them too. For example, Anthony never married and whilst her collaboration with Stanton was for the most part premised on accommodating the responsibilities Stanton had for her family, Anthony did sometimes object: ‘Woman must take to her soul a purpose and then make circumstances conform to this purpose, instead of forever singing the refrain, if and if and if!’, she once argued in an implicit criticism of the compromises that marriage necessitates. But, it was actually the married Stanton whose mature politics did more to challenge their friendship towards the end. Her ﬁnal speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1892, entitled ‘The Solitude of the Self’ and often regarded as her masterpiece, was premised on an existential phi- losophy that implicitly marginalised friendship. In the speech, Stanton laid out an argument which said that women cannot depend on men because ultimately everyone is alone. This made a good case for suffrage because, if true, everyone must be allowed whatever means are available in society to guard themselves against such isolation. Stanton invoked the ﬁgure of Robinson Crusoe to demonstrate her case. He was an individual who lived in a world of his own, who was arbiter of his own destiny, and who used every faculty at his disposal to ensure his own safety and hap- piness. So, Stanton argued, should a woman be. She deployed the ﬁgure of Crusoe’s companion, Friday, in her analogy; every woman would have her own woman, a Friday, she said. But what at ﬁrst reads like an invocation of the early days of her friendship with Anthony turned out to distance them from each other, because she concluded that whilst a Friday brought beneﬁts, ultimately no one could rely on anyone apart from themselves. The implication was that even Anthony had left her alone at certain moments:
In youth our most bitter disappointments, our brightest hopes and ambitions, are known only to ourselves. Even our Prophetic Friendship 193 email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship194 friendship and our love we never fully share with another … Alone a woman goes to the gates of death to give life to every man that is born into the world; no one can share her fears, no one can mitigate her pangs; and if her sorrow is greater than she can bear, alone she passes beyond the gates into the vast unknown … how few the burdens that one soul can bear for another!
Michael Farrell believes that this was Stanton’s public ‘divorce’\ of Anthony and that for what remained of her life she wanted to be independent of her. When, for exa mple, Stanton’s husband died, Anthony invited her to move in with her and form a new ‘home for single women’. Stanton refused. Even close friends of forty years standing are never far from the unpredictable ambivalences of friendship. As far as I know, Stanton and Anthony’s friendship was never itself a source of public comment. Neither was it at the time interpreted, or meant, as an act of rebellion against the world of men – as if, for example, its marriage-like characteristics were a judgement on the bonds of real marriage within which women may have felt themselves to be trapped. In other words, the friendship ﬁred a challenge to society but was not perceived as an affront in itself. But if we move forward a few years, to the feminist movement of the mid- to late twentieth century, then friendship itself becomes a form of protest. By this time, both con- temporary and reconstructed historic friendships between women could be seen as acts of emancipation in their own right. Political weight A good example of this interpretation of friendship is found in Lillian Faderman’s Surpassing the Love of Men – a study of women’s friendships in the Victorian period whose title alone says much.
(In the Bible it is the love of David and Jonathan whose love ‘sur- passes that of women’.) She examines what she calls romantic friendships between women such as Emily Dickinson and Sue firstname.lastname@example.org Gilbert, and ﬁnds them surprisingly common. However, Fader- man’s purpose in recovering these stories is not only historical.
It is political and becomes explicit when in a deliberately pro- vocative move, and no doubt with a wry smile on her face, she classiﬁes them as lesbian. Not that she means they were necess- arily sexual. In fact, she believes that is an uninteresting question.
Rather, she uses the word lesbian to emphasise the social power of ‘women on women’ friendship that she wants to draw atten- tion to within the context of the feminist politics of her time:
‘a lesbian is a woman who makes women prime in her life, who gives her energies and her commitment to other women rather than to men’, she explains. This classiﬁcation is not wholly anachronistic. Lesbianism has long been a trope for subversive women regardless of their sexual proclivities. In the Victorian writer Algernon Swinburne’s posthumously published novel, Lesbia Brandon, he connects the high intellect and independent spirit of his lead female character to an ‘inevitable’ lesbianism, and indeed ‘inevitable’ event\ ual suicide. It is also the case that as the friendships Faderman docu- ments blossomed, so they came to be regarded with anxiety, raising almost ridiculous concerns, such as the possibility that women everywhere might want to cease marrying and having relationships with men. But the subversive element is focused on something at once more subtle and pervasive. As Simone de Beauvoir observed in 1949, ‘often women choose to become lesbians when they are absorbed in ambitious projects of their own, or when they simply want liberty and decline to abdicate in favour of another human being as the heterosexual relationship generally demands of females’. Faderman’s goal is the same; to make an explicit link between the very fact of being friends and female emancipation. As she concludes:
Many of the relationships that [men] condemned had little to do with sexual expression. It was rather that love between women, coupled with their emerging freedom, might con- ceivably bring about the overthrow of heterosexuality – which Prophetic Friendship 195 email@example.com has meant not only sex between men and women but patri- archal culture, male dominance and female subservience.
So how is it that friendship itself comes to be thought of as an act of rebellion, as opposed to just providing support for certain kinds of protest or, going further back to the times of Walker and Lister, merely being an act of personal resistance? It stems in large part from the critique of society that feminists have put forward:
friendship is seen as an embodiment of that critique. This embraces a number of aspects. But take one. As many feminists see it, many of the problems of the modern world arise from the dominance of individualism; the fact that being human is thought of in terms of being a ‘social atom’. This is the same social atomism at the heart of post- Kantian ethics, though let us now frame it in a different way.
Think of the model of human individuality that is often referred to as ‘rational economic man’ [ sic]. According to this model, indi- viduals make decisions according to the rule of maximising things for themselves, and themselves alone. Rational economic man views work as a place where he should gain as many advantages for himself as he can; he competes against his peers or compet- itors and balances out the pain of working hard (and reaping rewards) and the pleasure of an easy life (with few prospects).
Alternatively, he views his political acts as a way to maximise the beneﬁts he receives from society; he votes for whoever promises to improve his health care, to secure his job, and not to raise his taxes. More mundanely, when he travels he seeks to maximise the speed with which he can get somewhere; he pits his need to travel fast against other road-users’ desire to do the same. All in all, dec\ i- sions are taken primarily with himself in mind. Any consideration of others is judged by the disadvantage, inconvenience or pain such an action would cause to him. He operates as a social atom. Now, of course, rational economic man does not exist in reality.
Even the most selﬁsh individual has family and friends whom they care about, at least some of the time: they will do favours for a col- league at work; will make allowances for a slow pedestrian crossing The Meaning of Friendship 196 firstname.lastname@example.org the road; will consider various policies when voting; a man may even shop for his wife. As Thomas Aquinas might have said, even egoism can reach out to others. However, the point about the model of a rational economic man is that the modern market econ- omy favours behaviour that is like his. It is a competitive environ- ment, driven by maximising utility, vying for scare resources, and encouraging predominantly instrumental, utility-based relation- ships. The net result is that behaving like rational economic indi- viduals tends to be reinforced – in everything from government policy to the size of pay packets – and behaviour that is not like it\ tends to be marginalised. Many thinkers, not just feminists, are unsettled by the implica- tions of this. What they have in common is objecting to a concep- tion of individuality based upon social atomism, and preferring instead an idea of people acting according to their attachments.
Communitarianism is one alternative model. It is a way of think- ing about socioeconomic behaviour based upon the belief that people make decisions about their actions in terms of their social, not individual, identity. As Alasdair MacIntyre puts it:
I am someone’s son or daughter, someone else’s cousin or uncle; I am a citizen of this or that city, a member of this or that guild or profession; I belong to this clan, that tribe, this nation … These are the given of my life, my moral starting point.
The problem with communitarianism for feminists is that although it takes people’s attachments seriously, it can be blind to the possibility that these attachments may be oppressive. For example, if a woman is treated harshly by her husband, or a person of colour is ostracised in a predominantly white workplace, then communitarianism could inadvertently legitimise that abuse by celebrating the family connection, or professional association, regardless of its ramiﬁcations. Communitarians can, of course, share the values that abhor exploitation of this kind. But what critics of communitarianism argue is that it risks sidelining those Prophetic Friendship 197 email@example.com values in the effort to shake off social atomism; valorising social networks like family, school, church or nation can validate the relationships out of which injustice can grow by taking them as ‘the given’ of life.
Right relationship One feminist response to the inadequacy of alternatives like communitarianism has been to emphasise the necessity of choice in relationships. And this is where friendship as a model of social connection comes in because it is a relationship that is, in large part, characterised by voluntarism. Marilyn Friedman has written suggestively about this. Friendship, she argues, is a good way of thinking about what it is to be connected, particularly in the urban context in which many forms of connection are based on choice not obligation. Her point is not that friendship encourages people to have a friendly attitude towards each other which in turn reduces incidents of abuse: that would clearly be highly unlikely, to say nothing of the fact that cities can also be places of isolation, loneliness and alienation. Neither does she treat friendship idealistically, as if she were describing a society of friends in which division, dissent and disruption had ceased: we have seen that friendship can aspire to be noble but has little to do with utopias. Rather, she focuses on friendship to outline a way of engaging with society. First, it promotes networks of support. In the urban context, this is manifested in the way that cities are home to all sorts of minorities. The city provides both the anonymity that allows someone to separate themselves from any oppressive origins and the networks around which to form common interest groups to resist that oppression. In bars and clubs, community centres and meeting rooms – ‘amongst friends’ – individuals can rein\ – vent themselves without having to deal with the intolerance of crabby families or insular neighbours. Second, whilst such friend- ships may be politically passive, the city makes it highly likely that at least some people within such groups will become polit- The Meaning of Friendship 198 firstname.lastname@example.org ically active – either ﬁghting for their own interests or express-\ ing solidarity with others. This is where the prophetic dynamic kicks in: friendship gains social weight and comes to be seen as an act of emancipation itself. Another feminist thinker, Mary E. Hunt, develops this thought.
For women, she argues, friendship is the context within which the political imperatives of mutuality, equality and reciprocity are best experienced. This is empowering at the personal level and becomes political because, as relational ‘experts in the ﬁeld’,\ it gives women things to teach the world around them. In terms of the argument against individualism, what women’s friendships teach is what she calls ‘right relationship’ – exempliﬁed in\ a balance of four elements: love, feeling more united than sep- arated; power, the power to ﬁght for the right to choose what is best; embodiment, the struggle to love ourselves and each other particularly in relation to our bodies; and fourth what she calls spirituality, the sense of being concerned for quality of life. When friendships manifest such right relationships they become both liberative and witnesses to it. Hunt realises that friendship has its weaknesses stemming from the ambiguities inherent in it. These may well stymie the attempt to ﬁnd the right balance she seeks; such are its contingencies and vulnerabilities. However, she concludes that when friendship is regarded as the ethical norm, it reﬂects values that are different from those associated with social atomism. Rational economic man is exposed. This carries with it the potential for much social good. Something similar was said of friendships in the workplace:
the dominant mode of relatedness there is individualistic and util- itarian; friendship overcomes that when individuals come to know and love each other for who they are, not simply what they give. Hunt describes these friendships in abstract ideals – as empow- ered, embodied and so on. But what, we might ask, do they look like in practice? What are the ramiﬁcations of holding friendship as the predominant social norm? This is where the politics of friendship moves into another creative mode. Here it plays not only a critical role but also an inventive one, of asserting and Prophetic Friendship 199 email@example.com perhaps devising alternative ways of relating. Hunt’s notion of right relationship is certainly part of this. But let us now turn to another contemporary source of creative relational politics, namely, that of the friendships between self-identiﬁed gay men and women.
What are gay men for?
Consider friendship ﬁrst from the gay men’s point of view.
There are many ways to tell this side of the story and scholars sometimes ferociously debate which is best. However, an inter- esting place to pick it up is to step back in time again to a par- ticular moment in social history, the birth of the coffee house.
During the latter half of the seventeenth century – that pivotal period for the emergence of modern society – several hundred coffee houses opened up in London alone. For a society that had come to consider commercial exchange, not social hier- archy, as its basis, they were places where people could relate as individuals on equal ground. They spread for very similar reasons in the US, if somewhat later, after the Civil War. Having said that, they were not in general places for friends to meet. In fact, the rules of politeness that guided behaviour in them preferred people not to be close friends, or at least not to act as such; it was thought that conversation between inti- mates too easily descended into small talk. Rather, the coffee house was a place where for relatively modest amounts of cash – the price of coffee and possibly an entrance fee – all manner of mostly men could mingle for the serious business of discussing anything from Indian imports and Whigish scandals to German Idealism. A small number of these coffee houses were called molly houses and they served a particular clientele: a male homo- sexual subculture with a rather different agenda. They formed, in a way, the original ‘gay’ scene and probably varied in charac- ter as much as gay bars do today. Some surviving descriptions of them emphasise the effeminacy of the men who frequented The Meaning of Friendship 200 firstname.lastname@example.org them. This sketch is by Edward Ward from his Secret History of Clubs: They adopt all the small vanities natural to the feminine sex to such an extent that they try to speak, walk, chatter, shriek and scold as women do, aping them as well in other respects. In a certain tavern in the City, the name of which I will not mention, not wishing to bring the house into disrepute, they hold parties and regular gatherings.
A more ‘hard-core’ picture comes from Samuel Stevens who was probably an agent for a collective organisation that went by the name of the Societies for the Reformation of Manners:
I found between 40 and 50 men making love to one another as they called it. Sometimes they would sit in one another’s laps, kissing in a lewd manner and using their hands indecently.
These sources were written by individuals who basically disap- proved of molly houses. However, it would be a mistake to see them solely as scandalous places in which men met to ﬂounce or frottage. More profoundly, they were the cultural product of a dis- content that some men felt about the way their society thought they should be male, particularly in relation to the way they were supposed to relate to other men. As Michael Vasey has put it: [T]he male homosexual was now seen as an alternative to the masculine ideal of the culture; the role was becoming available as a social identity for those who were ill at ease with the pre- vailing masculine ideal within the culture … It represented a borrowing of the cultural models for affectionate and sexual behaviour, as well as being a form of ironic criticism of the social order that was hostile to this form of same-sex affection.
In other words, when it came to the question of how men should relate in public, possibilities of affection found themselves ousted Prophetic Friendship 201 email@example.com by the post-Lockean wariness of activities such as kissing and sleeping together, and molly houses provided ‘a cultural counter- point’ to the new social norms. They represented an alternative relational space. Men were affectionate in them, no doubt partly driven by the desire for sex but also by a need to explore intima- cies and friendships that were limited elsewhere. It is perhaps only going slightly too far to say that the men who frequented them carried the remembrance of a way of relating between men that might otherwise have been increasingly excluded during this time of social change. If we ask tongue in cheek, what was the signiﬁ- cance of these homosexuals to society at large, the answer in a word is friendship.
Lads, blokes and metrosexuals Leaping to the present day, it is obvious that in manyrespects ideals of masculinity have shifted again. What is interesting about this, though, is that many aspects of male affection are still tied to notions of what we now call gayness. Take the phe- nomenon of David Beckham. He has shocked, transﬁxed and seduced the world because although unquestionably masculine he adopted many of the trappings associated with male homo- sexuality: his image says many things to men, but partly it says, you can push at gendered boundaries, look beautiful, and even risk public displays of affection. Alternatively, if you consider the return of the kiss as a common public greeting between men, I imagine that in the Anglo-Saxon world at least it has much to do with gay culture: one might also point to other factors such as the love of all things Italian (an association that was once itself a euphemism for homosexuality), but being at ease with physical expressions of affection, gay men have long kissed each other in greeting, and now this has arguably been passed back into society. When it comes to contemporary attitudes towards male friend- ship, the evidence is mixed. Negatively, they can be coloured by homophobia, the negative response to the association with The Meaning of Friendship 202 firstname.lastname@example.org gayness. This manifests itself as demonstrable rejections of homo- sexuality in the friendship, regardless of whether it is there or not.
Think of representations of men’s friendship on television and in the cinema. They can show male relationships to be stilted and stunted: the men might be concerned with little more than talk- ing aboutbedding girls (in Friends think of Joey and Chandler); nailing enemies (this genre of male friendship reaches back to Miami Vice); or straightforwardly deriding homosexuality (think of B-list war movies and the new recruits subjected to ‘pansy-packed’\ abuse from a sergeant). There is also the problem of loutish foot- ball fans: I wonder if the reason why some fans feel they must trash town centres and attack their opponents is because, uncon- sciously, they feel they must indulge their machismo in order to demonstrate that their friendships with other fans are not dodgy.
The point is to display a conspicuous heterosexuality that negates any suggestion of what might be construed as affection. This is the tragic side of modern friendship between men; it means that, culturally speaking, friendship between men is often trivialised. More positively, and apart from the increased visibility of gay men themselves, contemporary culture is willing to explore the more affectionate aspects of male friendship too. It is notable, for example, that the ﬁlms of the quintessential all-American hero Tom Cruise routinely feature his friendships with men. In Top Gun, the love that Cruise’s character has for his ﬂying part- ner exceeds the love that he has for his female ﬂying instructor, though inevitably the two of them do eventually ‘bike off’ into the sunset. In Cruise’s more recent ﬁlm Collateral, the only rela- tionship that his character has is with ano ther man, though it is driven by enmity. More widely, one can observe the emergence of what Mark Simpson was the ﬁrst to identify as the metrosexual – a man who ‘consumes in all the best gyms, clubs, shops and hairdressers’ because whether gay, straight or bisexual, his image of his own masculinity allows him to do so. It is no surprise that the narcissistic side of the metrosexual ﬁnds much in common with the self-love inherent in much friendship; as Simpson notes, his sense of self revolves around circles of friends. Alternatively, Prophetic Friendship 203 email@example.com the metrosexual conceives of marriage primarily in terms of friend- ship – as opposed to a relationship shaped by prescribed gender roles – and thinks that tying the knot should be an agreement between equals: ‘the metrosexual is less interested in blood lines, traditions, family, class, gender than in choosing who they want to be and who they want to be with’. The male metrosexual also lurks within the female characters of soaps like Sex and the City, in molly house-like female guise. The message would seem to be this: if you want to enjoy deeper friendship, unleash your inner metrosexual. That said, the extent to which even liberated modern man is good at friendship is debatable. Consider, Yasmina Reza’s award winning play Art. The plot revolves around the friendship of three men: Serge who buys a painting of a featureless white canvass at vast expense; Marc who exclaims, ‘You paid two hundred thou- sand francs for this shit’; and Yvan who is more tolerant and tries to placate them both. The play deals with the fragilities of their friendship which are exposed as a result of the purchase. Marc feels that Serge has betrayed him in what he sees as a pretentious purchase. Serge feels that an unattractive side of Marc is revealed by his attitude to the picture; it shows that he cannot see the dif- ference between cash value and true value. And they both come to see Yvan’s friendship as insubstantial because all he can do as the crisis ensues is all he ever has done – try to make them laugh.
In the ﬁnal scene, Serge and Marc’s 15-year friendship appears to come to an end because their masculinity refuses to allow them to admit to each other that they have been hurt. We might say that the friendship does not have the resources to carry them beyond the shock of being honest with one another; the art has exposed their usual habit of shallow friendliness and dissimulation. Other portrayals of male friendship in novels such as those labelled ‘lad-lit’ are similarly ambiguous. For example, in Nick Hornby’s novels Fever Pitch and High Fidelity, that tell of the blokeish love of soccer and music records respectively, the male characters ﬂourish insofar as they are companionable with other men, but fail when they try to get close to them. This reﬂects what the sociologist Graham Allan has found: the dominant images of The Meaning of Friendship 204 firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship205 contemporary masculinity manage to show male sociability but are not so sure when it comes to male intimacy. It seems that male friendship still has its limits. Men are still subject to the dominance of the individualistic and competitive spirit released at the birth of privatising modernity, and an ideal of masculinity that ﬁnds affection tricky. So there is a job for gay men to do yet! What, speciﬁcally, might that be for today? Andrew Sullivan is one contemporary writer to have thought about this. His answer focuses precisely on this question of male intimacy. The greatest difference between homo- sexual and heterosexual men, he thinks, is not to be found in their different sexual attractions or needs, but actually in their ability to sustain friendship. And sus taining friendship beyond the com- panionability found in football or music, and through the argu- ments that may break out over a piece of art, is key to the development of intimacy. The reason for this ‘ability’ in gay men, Sullivan thinks, stems from the earliest experience of homosexuality. This is not merely one of illicit desire but is one of loneliness: it moves into open- ness if and only if the gay man ﬁnds a true friend, that is, some- one who accepts that he is gay. ‘Gay men value friendship because until they ﬁnd their feet as human beings, and let’s face it, it’\ s not easy to be 16 and gay, friends are not just friends. They are allies against the world,’ was how Tony Warren, creator of the soap Coronation Street, put it. So Sullivan’s point is not to score points over heterosexuality: ‘Gay men have sustained and nourished [friendship] in our culture only by default,’ he continues. ‘And they are good at friendship not because they are homosexual, but because, in the face of a deep and silent isolation, they are human.’ The job for gay men, then, is to open up closed possibilities of relationship to expansive notions of friendship. In this sense, gay liberation is a potential liberation for everyone:
It would be to open the heterosexual life – espe cially the male heterosexual life – to the possibilities of intimacy and support email@example.com that friendship offers, to vent the family with the fresh air of friendship, to expand the range of relationships and connections that every heterosexual person can achieve.
Having said that, gay men are still men. Their sexuality does not automatically free them from the competitive, evasive and proud features of much modern masculinity. Similarly, their friendship will be marked by the uncertainties, duplicities and confusions of amity. In fact there is an argument that they can develop an exceptional talent for friendly lying because of the need to conceal their sexuality from others. In other words, if there is any creative potential in gay friendship it would be more secure if it rested not just on the humanity of the individuals themselves but on the wider, prophetic impact of their very presence. This is the line of thought that was developed in the ﬁnal years of his life by the French philosopher, Michel Foucault. Queer lives In 1982 Foucault gave an interview to the San Francisco- based mag- azine Christopher Street . In it, he argued that the battle for gay liberation is limited if it is thought of only in terms of gaining gay rights. The problem with merely ﬁghting for rights is that it doesn’t necessarily change anything fundamental: rights are extended as people become enfranchised, undoubtedly a good thing, but society itself and the way people think about them- selves mostly remains the same. Think of something like the ‘right’ to go to a gay bar, perhaps construed as a right to free- dom of expression. This would certainly be part of a liberal society. But the assertion of the right itself does not address the question of why gay bars are necessary to start with. For this reason, Foucault believed that the success of gay liberation is not just to be measured by the extent to which homosexuals are free to come out and live ‘gay lives’. Nor by the extent to which it opens up the heterosexual life. Rather its true goal should be more radical. It should be one that begins a process by which The Meaning of Friendship 206 firstname.lastname@example.org people can ﬁnd a way out of feeling the need to deﬁne themselves according to a particular sexuality at all.
What does he mean by that? Think again of the emergence of molly houses and, now, gay bars. The fundamental issue is the negative aspects of the social changes that led to the need for them to start with, which, if the history we’ve explored here is right, stems in turn from the collapse of the extended household and the dominance of a modern idea of society: it is this that has consequent ramiﬁcations for the way people relate to one ano- ther, particularly when it comes to affection. Gay liberation needs, therefore, to ﬁnd ways of addressing these deeper issues too. This is undoubtedly more difﬁcult. However, in another inter- view entitled ‘Friendship as a Way of Life’, Foucault suggested a way forward when he noted the fact that modern society seems to be especially anxious about the way people behave in it. ‘Society and the institutions which frame it have limited the possibility of relationships [to marriage] because a rich relational world would be very complex to manage.’ According to this view, the challenge at the heart of gay liberation is the freedom to love, befriend and relate more widely; it is to create or imagine a society in which individuals have more options, one that permits many more possible types of relations to exist. Now, it might be thought that this is to do with sex. But that is actually, I think, a distraction. What is far more disturbing at the social level is the possibility that same-sex men and women are loving each other. This is the point at which gay men and women are most prophetic and present their greatest challenge: as Foucault pointed out, when any serious attention is paid to the ‘problem’ o\ f homosexuality, it rapidly becomes clear that the real problem is that of friendship; modern society has a problem with that. It is for this reason that friendship, not sexual acts, lies at the heart of several current disputes about homo sexuality. For example, it is no coincidence that the ‘gay debate’ is often at its most ﬁerce in institutions that feel themselves least able to accommodate such love. Consider the question of gays in the military. The difﬁculty that the Forces have is that they straddle Prophetic Friendship 207 email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship208 an uncomfortable contradiction when it comes to same-sex friend- ships. On the one hand, the military must promote them in the camaraderie that may even call on individuals to die for each other. But, on the other hand, it is an institution within which overtly homosexual love is routinely shamed, if not outlawed, for fear of the intense affections that might ‘short-circuit’ the rule\ s and habits that soldiers are trained to obey. The matter is contro- versial because of the thought that military relationships are hard enough to police without the complication of actual love. Alternatively, what of the current uproar in the Anglican Church over homosexuality? In the United States, this has focused on the consecration of the ﬁrst openly gay man, Gene Robinson, as a bishop in New Hampshire. However the row started before that, with the appointment in the UK of Jeffrey John to the post of Bishop of Reading. He too was openly gay, but in a celibate relationship. In other words, he was neither engaging in ‘sexual sin’ nor was he going to teach anything that might be regarded as sexually immoral. The difﬁculty was that his way of life Figure 15: ‘The development towards which the problem of homosexuality tends is the one of friendship.’ (Michel Foucault) firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship209 advocated an unconventional form of friendship. The challenge that posed provided quite enough unease for conservatives to leverage and get his appointment withdrawn. They say it’s the sin they hate, but actually it’s love between men that they ﬁnd unsettling – evangelical conservatism merely serving to intensify a widespread unease about the changing roles of men and women in contemporary society.Therein lies the creative iconoclasm of friendship – its contem- porary subversiveness. It presents a challenge that is more than just the introduction of ano ther category of partners; the couple- dom of the nuclear family could readily embrace more couples.
Rather it opens up the far larger matter of how men and women relate to one another. Foucault continued:
[H]ow is it possible for men to be together? To live together, to share their time, their meals, their room, their leisure, their grief, their knowledge, their conﬁdences? What is it, to be ‘naked’ among men, outside of institutional relations, family, profession and obligatory camaraderie?
The signiﬁcance of gay friendship is, then, that it is a way of life that seeks to be simultaneously innovative and subversive. It embodies a freedom that stems not only from the early experi- ences of homosexuality but also from the fact that it emerges in spite of attempts to control and manage relationships. The ‘advan- tage’ that gay men and women have is in a sense negative: until very recently at least, they do not have access to the institutions that others adopt to shape and understand their relationships, notably marriage. They must literally make it up, partly no doubt by imitating marriage, but also by having to transcend contem- porary relational constraints within a context of friendship. It might be thought of as a kind of social experiment, a struggle of invention because of the paucity of the received relational imagination, though, perhaps not unlike Lister and Walker, it can ﬁnd resources in the older ways of friendship that we have examined. email@example.com The paradox is that whilst gay men and women are routinely discriminated against in society, the ‘experiments’ they undertake\ in their relationships may actually be a rich resource for others to draw on, not least in terms of friendship. Angela Mason, former director of the UK lobby group Stonewall, described it thus:
My argument is that lesbians and gay men who have been the most sexually stigmatised group within society, who are derided as promiscuous and immoral, may have a contribution to make to a new ethic of personal relationships that is not exclusively based on sexual gratiﬁcation or demeaning sexual stereotypes.
Foucault captured the experience of the freedom that gay men and women might ﬁnd in friendship by considering the kind of relationship that can exist bet ween two same-sex individuals of very different age – the age difference emphasising the inaccess- ibility of conventional institutions for them to model their rela- tionship on, should they want to. ‘What code would allow them to communicate?’, he pondered:
They face each other without terms or convenient words, with nothing to assure them about the meaning of the movement that carries them towards each other. They have to invent, from A to Z, a relationship that is still formless, which is friendship: that is to say, the sum of everything through which they can give each other pleasure.
Again, it is important not to romanticise such relationships in the temptation to idealise gayness and friendship. In fact, Foucault’s example deliberately discourages that since the free- dom that these two individuals might enjoy could as easily become something that is feared; the anxiety of a relationship that is formless, that ﬂoats free of any norms to guide it or con- ventions with which to express it. This is undoubtedly a fear that many gay men and women will have experienced, particularly as they struggle to form long-lasting partnerships. However, it is a The Meaning of Friendship 210 firstname.lastname@example.org fear that is also seen in the reaction that other people can have to relationships like it. The tendency here is to assume that it must be mostly sexual, in the case of the older person, and mostly for some kind of ﬁnancial beneﬁt, in the case of the younger. What is hard to admit is that it may be a friendship, one that overturns conventional ideas about physical beauty or material gain. Or, to put it another way, one that manages to negotiate certain ambi- guities of friendship. Being open to the possibility that it may be genuinely affectionate, mutual, faithful and companionable is for many too much to stomach. Of course the possibilities represented by friendship depend to a degree upon the success that the individuals may or may not be able to make of it. However, the alternative way of life that they can embody is both a personal and a social opportunity. As Foucault summarises:
Homosexuality is an historic occasion to re-open affective and relational [possibilities], not so much through the intrin- sic qualities of the homosexual, but due to the biases against the position he occupies; in a certain sense diagonal lines that he can trace in the social fabric permit him to make these [possibilities] visible.
It matters to anyone for whom friendship matters at all.
Sociological evidence So much for the theory. What about the practice? The sociologist Jeffrey Weeks headed up a team that researched gay relationships, or as they called them ‘same-sex intimacies’. They interviewed people in a variety of such non-traditional relationships, and found that the 1990s saw a growing acceptance of same-sex partnerships, and to a lesser extent parenting, which was in turn reﬂected in changes in the meaning of family. Within these wider social shifts, they also identiﬁed the emergence of a com- plex but durable friendship ethic. In fact, friendship was the most Prophetic Friendship 211 email@example.com common way that the interviewees identiﬁed their relationships.
‘Friendships particularly ﬂourish when overarching identities are fragmented in periods of rapid social change, or at turning points in people’s lives, or when lives are lived at odds with social norms,’ Weeks writes. The friendship ethic he uncovered e xhibits a num- ber of characteristics that I think demonstrate the creative political potential of friendship. On one level, it has much to do with simply being gay in a relatively hostile world. For example, Weeks identiﬁes a role for the friendship ethic in supporting the individual through what he calls ‘fateful moments’ in homosexual experience. The signiﬁc- ance of friendship in this case is its necessity for survival and self- actualisation in a hostile world: family and other institutions of belonging won’t do and may in fact be associated with the hos- tility. This might manifest itself in a number of ways. Many of the interviewees said that being able to talk frankly about sexual experiences with certain individuals was what distinguished them as close friends. A related factor is the permanence of close friends, or at least an assumption that they will be permanent: ‘In contrast to the vagaries of one-to-one relationships, friends … are a focus of long-lasting engagement, trust and commitment.’ Alternatively, he draws attention to aspects of the relation- ships he examined that are key simply because friendship itself is highly valued. For example, they are regarded as freely chosen, though many social factors limit the choice in practice; they take time to form; they come in many shapes and sizes running from mere acquaintances to those thought of as family; and they must be ‘constantly negotiated and renegotiated if friendships are to work and survive’. This last issue points to another facet of the weight of its freedom: friendships are not socially legitimised like relationships of kin, and so gay men and women who depend upon them must ﬁnds ways of strengthening them and making them stand up. However, it is in relation to Aids – another ‘fateful’ factor –\ that the friendships perhaps most clearly show the potential for inno- vative forms of relationship. Aids is a catalyst for extended notions The Meaning of Friendship 212 firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship213 of family because traditional family members are often absent or not able to cope with the crisis. Alternatively, Aids deepens the friendship ethic because of the way it impacts attitudes towards care, responsibility and respect: Care involves an active concern for the lives, hopes, needs and potentialities of others. It is a highly gendered activity in western culture, seen typically as the prerogative of women.
But from our evidence, it is as likely to occur in male as it is female non-heterosexual relationships … Respons ibility as a voluntary act, revealing our response to the needs, latent or explicit, of others, and receiving in return the responsible behaviour of others, is a clearly expressed ideal of our inter- viewees. Respect, for one’s individual autonomy, and for the dignity of others, is a motivating force of many of the friend- ship circles of our interviewees. These are all features of the friendship ethic at its best.
Weeks also highlights a common concept amongst those he talked to which he calls the ‘good friend’ – friendship based upon values such as sharing, support, openness, interests, trust and commitment. His interviewees realise that the good friend may be hard to realise in practice. But what is notable is that they are also alert to trying to strike the right balance that makes for it, the balance between being useful and feeling used, sexual posses- siveness and individual autonomy, distance and involvement, choice and obligation – that is, they are aware of negotiating the perils of friendship and realising its promise. Of course, homosexuality does not necessary make for success- ful let alone innovative forms of friendship. As Weeks notes, circles of homosexual friends can be as insular and conventional as any other. Moreover, some may fear the freedom associated with being gay and use friendship as a refuge from the personal ramiﬁcations of being homosexual, reinforcing social stereo types rather than encouraging experimentation. In terms of Foucault’s analysis, this is a ghettoised form of friendship that preserves, not email@example.com dissolves, the homosexual identity. But in general, Weeks is opti- mistic about the signiﬁcance of the gay friendship ethic for the relational landscape of the early twenty-ﬁrst century.
Friendship in other relationships Gay men and women have no intrinsic monopoly on these political possibilities: they are not the only individuals against which society is biased. Friendship between people of different race, creed or class may well represent relationships with which a majority are uneasy and which therefore have social signiﬁcance.
Moreover, non-institutional but committed ways of relating have become widespread in western societies and these in turn present certain challenges to relationships that are set within a traditional frame. Anthony Giddens, for example, has coined the term ‘pure rela- tionship’ to identify not just a type of relationship but a common characteristic of perhaps most modern relationships: ‘It refers to a situation where a social relation is entered into for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from a sustained associa- tion with another.’ He believes that the pure relationship has arisen because the social function of marriage has changed: it is no longer required to secure the future population but has become an option in the enactment of romantic love. The pure relationship is also a product of a social change in which people value an integrity in their relationships based upon trust, an atti- tude which makes the older economic necessities that under- pinned traditional marriage seem outdated if not repugnant. As Foucault might have put it, the pure relationship has arisen in part because society has impoverished relational institutions:
couples may not want to marry for many complex reasons but a perception that the institution is moribund is one of them. Giddens only mentions friendship in passing in his work, perhaps aware that it is a notoriously difﬁcult relationship for soci\ – ologists to deﬁne. Indeed, it seems to me that the pure relationship is not necessarily synonymous with friendship. For example, the The Meaning of Friendship 214 firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship215 pure relationship’s association with romantic notions of love may actually scupper the evolution of deeper kinds of friendship. If the romantic enactment of marriage is focused on a possessive notion of union – two becoming one – then friendship may be compro- mised; friendship requires a recognition of the distance as well as the proximity of another self. At the same time, the freedom asso- ciated with the pure relationship and the fact that it is entered into for its own sake may provide fertile grounds for friendship; the focus here is not on union but on loving someone for who they are, which according to Aristotle is the essence of friendships of the highest kind. Two other sociologists, Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl, have addressed the question of friendship in modern relationships head on in their book Rethinking Friendship: Hidden Solidarities Today . In part, what they see is an interpenetration of notions of family and friends in people’s ‘personal communities’, making the point that many do not think of family and friends as polar opposites (as if family consisted solely of given relationships, and friends solely of those who are chosen). Spencer and Pahl interpret this using the idea of ‘suffusion’; personal communities that incorporate family relationships and wider circles of friends. The personal commun- ities of some individuals conform to strict deﬁnitions of family. But\ , for others, they may be family-based in the sense that friends come to seem like family, or friend-based in the sense that family rela- tionships are thought of as friends. All in all, they conclude that most people’s personal communities fall onto one of these types:
1. A friend-like community, where a person depends more on friends than family.
2. A friend-enveloped community, with close relatives at the centre, and a larger group of friends around the family.
3. A family-like community in which family members outnumber friends.
4. Family-dependent – family outnumber friends.
5. Partner-focused, in which a couple keep friends and relatives at a distance. email@example.com 6. Neighbourhood-focused.
The return of trust It is against this background that we can return to the question of regaining a sense of trust in friendship. We explored the notion that the secular reinterpretation of Christianity’s unease with friendship was to regard it as a selﬁsh and particular relationship that operates outside, and perhaps even undermines, the best ethical concerns. Spencer and Pahl’s evidence that suffusions of family and friends are to be found within personal communities implies that this distrust of friendship is misplaced, because – at the risk of stating the obvious – people do rely on friends and see friendship as part and parcel of a good life. To a degree, then, networks of family and friends are part of the informal and perhaps hidden fabric of an admittedly changing society already:
the implication is that friendship needs to be brought in from the cold. Against this, though, is the subversive nature of friendship which whilst not negative in intent – the aim is to vent the family not undermine it, to extend the ways people love not limit them – is premised on a philosophy that is discontent with the status quo. This may well fuel the sense of distrust in friendship since for all that friendship is critical at a personal level, it may be viewed as\ destabilising society as a whole. The alarm that feminist and queer ideas can generate is obvious. Alternatively, a conservative point of view will see the spread of Gidden’s pure relationship, for example, as wilful and indulgent, not liberated, a notion that is, say, detrimental to the raising of children who require commit- ment beyond the couple’s own interests, not relationships entered into for their own sake. There’s no doubt much in that concern. But if friendship is so important to people, as it clearly is, then how might it be supported in society, and how might its contribution to a richer under standing of human relationships be nurtured? Might it be, say, productive to reinvent institutions The Meaning of Friendship 216 firstname.lastname@example.org of committed friendship, much like the medieval sworn brothers and sisters? You could argue that contemporary attitudes towards marriage and cohabitation are already re-embracing friendship. Indi- viduals may think of their marriages as founded primarily on friendship, and if they do not get married that may well be because they want their relationship to be one of friendship, which they see the old institution as undermining. Indeed, it is in way remarkable that, for all the liturgical changes embraced by Christian churches, the marriage service still contains no explicit reference to friendship. There must be a reason for that. One can speculate that friendship, with its ambiguities on the one hand and subversive associations on the other, is thought too fragile or fraught to form the fundamental unity of society. Or, to put it in terms we’ve used, it is still distrusted. The same thing can be said of the new legislation recognising gay marriages and civil partnerships. They are conceived of in terms of extending the legal beneﬁts of marriage to couples whose personal relationships otherwise miss out. It is true that they are a recognition of the relationships of same-sex citizens – in the words of Jacqui Smith, the former British Minister for Equality, ‘The Civil Partnership Act sends a clear message that we value and support the contribution committed same-sex couples make to each other and to our society.’ However, none of the acts being discussed by various governments is framed in the con- text of friendship or uses the language of friendship, as far as I know. Rather, civil partnerships are conceived of as extensions of civil rights and thus are strictly legal entities, really no more than contracts. There is not, or at least not yet, any new institution of friendship. Moreover, in the few years that gay marriage has been a possibility in some countries, it seems that the predominant model upon which people are drawing is one of old-style mar- riage, rather than any new possibility for friendship. And when you make the case that civil partnerships may represent an oppor- tunity for friendship to be publicly celebrated in western society once more, as I should say I’ve tried to do, the argument appears Prophetic Friendship 217 email@example.com to fall on deaf ears. It’s an uncompromising demand for mono- chrome equality that most gay activists want, not the diversity of relational opportunities that our medieval forebears apparently enjoyed.There is another kind of contemporary social friendship worth considering too, namely civic friendship – something closer to Aristotle’s model of a city and community that is based upon a mutual concern for one’s fellows. It’s a more difﬁcult thing to\ assess. At one level, it is clear that there is such a thing as civic friendliness. One only needs to think of the wide variety of char- ities and NGOs that are concerned with the quality of other people’s lives. They work, in part, by promoting networks of concerned individuals, from business, government and other organisations like the church. The relationships that evolve out of this concern are often based on certain types of friendship and certainly promote friendliness. But valuable though this may be, can we say any more than that vis-à-vis friendship? First, a brief reminder of what civic friendship has meant. The basis of it was a positive regard for friend ship as constitutive of society. For Aristotle, civic friend ship was therefore a concern shared between citizens for each others’ wellbeing, a result of the city-state nurturing life in two senses. One was the provision of the means for feeding oneself, defending oneself, and so on.
The other addressed the deeper aspect of humanity’s aspirations as a spiritual animal, namely, that of not only wanting to live, but to live well. This is what he meant by civic friendship: the shared desire in a city-state for the good life. In the Middle Ages, a related kind of civic friendship obtained.
It perhaps gained its clearest expression in the institution of sworn friendship. This existed in various forms over a long period of time, and made a link between the personal commitment of two individuals and their social lives. At one level, it provided a com- plementary set of personal links alongside the web of relations focused on the extended household, and, at another, it con- tributed to the formation of medieval society by making for afﬁnities in addition to those of family or ﬁefdom.
The Meaning of Friendship 218 firstname.lastname@example.org What these two periods of history show is that for civic friend- ship to ﬂourish, society must have a place for it. In ancient Greece, that receptiveness was manifest in a long tradition of concern about what friendship was and how it might be nurtured, demonstrated by everything from the statues they placed in their public squares to the books written by philosophers. In the Middle Ages, civic friendship found a place because social institutions were inclusive enough to embrace it; marriage and feudal ties were inter-, over- and under-woven with bonds of friendship.
So, it seems that there are good grounds for suggesting that contemporary, western society is limited on two critical fronts. First, modern democracy has rich mechanisms for looking after citizens’ wellbeing in an economic sense – that is, life in terms of staying well, staying alive, staying safe. But it ﬂounders when it comes to the kind of wellbeing of which Aristotle’s friendship was a sign. Possibilities for civic friendship in the full sense are in fact rather squeezed. On the one hand, the success of modern economic life arguably leaves less time for friends and for the higher concerns of wellbeing, perhaps even promot- ing ways of life that can be positively inimical to friendship.
As Ray Pahl puts it in an essay entitled ‘Friendly Society’, for a\ ll that some people are looking for friendly families and families of friends, why is it that so many still put the consumption of things over the cultivation of friendship in their pursuit of hap- piness? As we’ve seen, in practice we appear to be more in love with work, romance, mobility and ourselves than we are with the love called friendship, for all that many would confess oth- erwise. The structure of modern life, and the choices that people make in it, demonstrate as much. On the other hand, although our contemporary cultural life can undoubtedly be rich, it seems that it falls short of the aspirations of the past. Simon Goldhill’s Love, Sex and Tragedy amply demon- strates the perhaps inevitable ‘poverty of cultural ambition’ toda\ y when set alongside the Great Dionysia of ancient Athens. This ‘enabled and fostered participation and self-reﬂection on the per-\ sonal, familial, intellectual and political issues of general concern. Prophetic Friendship 219 email@example.com Where in the public life of western society could we look for any such equivalent critical and emotional civic engagement?’ – though it is hardly surprising that a political culture dominated by management and the market is so lacking. Second, modern democracy is characterised by a radical sepa- ration of the private and the public. For a variety of reasons, as we’ve seen, friendship has come to be seen as a private concern.
We don’t really trust it as a form of politics. Hence the reason that\ when it does infringe on public life, it is regarded as subversive.
Remember the political friendship between George W. Bush and Tony Blair. It is widely treated with Disraeli-like scepticism.
Even publications like The Economist, a keen supporter of Anglo- American relations, carried pictures of the two leaders on its front cover under the headline, ‘Wielders of Mass Deception’. Not much of a celebration of amity there. It means that though the notion of the family is changing, and new forms of belonging focused on friendship may be gaining ground, friendship has become socially signiﬁcant again only in the limited sense that individuals are seeking legal adjustments that better accommodate their personal lives. Thus, civil partnerships are not a sign that friendship is being conceived of as either a quasi-Aristotelian contribution to the good life of citizens or as a medieval-like insti- tution of affection-based bonding. In other words, the contem- porary politics of friendship does not unsettle the strict division of public and private. It is possible that our limited aspirations for friendship are not only all that a large, plural democracy can hope for, but that they are all it should hope for. The reason: friendship might actu- ally be destabilising of the representative democracy we enjoy now. The issue here is the dark side of democracy that Aristotle recognised in calling it a deviant constitution. If it can liberate the spirit and encourage participation amongst the masses, it can also turn in on itself when the majority disregards the life of the minority. Mob rule is always a threat, and so perhaps it is better to think of mass democracy as an arrangement made amongst strangers than friends. After all, friendships in practice – parti- The Meaning of Friendship 220 firstname.lastname@example.org Prophetic Friendship221 cularly political friendships – can readily rest on the hostility shown to common enemies, the notion that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, as the philosopher Carl Schmitt’s politics of friend- ship shows. As such, more profound notions of civic friendship today could by hijacked by a reactionary social conservatism and the politics of fear. The ambiguities of friendship raise their head again; it is not without some reason that contemporary politics is wary of it. email@example.com 222 The Spirituality of Friendship ‘Of the things which wisdom provides for the blessedness of one’s whole life, by far the greatest is the possession of friendship.’ Epicurus Spirituality is something of a buzz word. As Jeremy Carrette and Richard King argue in Selling Spirituality: the Silent Takeover of Reli- gion, it is a concept that, ﬁrst, has become highly individualised – it’s about ‘me’ and ‘my’ quality of life – and, s\ econd, has been adopted by organisations from car manufacturers to art galleries, with churches laying claim somewhere in between, whose pri- mary aim is commercial – increasing audiences and shifting products. The spirituality of friendship is similarly something to be rather sceptical about, at least at ﬁrst. If asked what it might mean proba-\ bly the most common answer would have to be soul friendship.
But the idea of soul friendship is one almost irredeemably ‘taken- over’ by maudlin, marketable associations too. Type ‘soul friends’ (or even worse ‘soulmate’) into an internet search engine and some of the most syrupy aphorisms on friendship will be returned for your ediﬁcation: ‘A soulmate is someone who has locks that ﬁt our keys’, ‘You are my ﬁre, my titanic ocean’, etc. The search will also throw up hundreds of dating agencies, websites promoting relationships with ‘celebrity soulmates’, and others that proffer advice on things like ‘soulmate health’. Such is the commercial value of the notion that one electronics manufacturer has named its MP3 music player SoulMate. The trouble with this sentimental haze and commodiﬁcation is that it cheapens an idea of enormous human value: the spirituality of friendship is not some thing that can simply be ceded to the market. It must be recovered because it captures the attitude best firstname.lastname@example.org The Spirituality of Friendship223 able to negotiate the ambiguities of friendship we have discussed, and make friendship nothing less than a way of life. The ﬁrst thing to do is to expose the spiritual veneer of the friendship of the marketplace. Consider again, the Aristotelian conception of the friend as another self. The very ambivalence of the phrase is indicative of a characteristic that is key to any signiﬁcant spirituality of friendship. ‘Another self’ captures \ both the intimacy of close friendship in conveying the idea that this friend is another person like yourself; to discover such a person is to discover someone who at least some of the time mirrors your own thoughts, beliefs and feelings – someone with whom the apparently intractable distance between human beings collapses until it is vanishingly small. And the phrase also includes the vital qualiﬁer that, for all the closeness, soul friends still recognise th\ at they are separate individuals. Each is ‘an other self’ to the othe\ r.
Unlike Narcissus who looked in the mirror and saw only himself, the source of the delight of soul friends is that they recognise not only themselves but another human being. ‘The essence of friend- ship lies, I suggest, in the exercise of a capacity to perceive, a willingness to respect, and a desire to understand the differ- ences between persons,’ said the philosopher Richard Wollheim.
Friends may share an intensity of feeling for each other, includ- ing joys and sorrows – ‘I am happy because she is happy’, ‘I\ am sad when he is sad’ – alongside successes and failures: they bask in each other’s reﬂected glory, or languish in each other’s mis\ – takes. But they never seek to consume each other or fall into a perpetual embrace. This is one aspect of spiritual friendship that the marketplace conveniently overlooks: its sentimentalisation of soulmateship arises by conﬂating that with the union to which romantic love aspires, a trope which commercially plays much better than advocating difference. The human value of the former, and the cash value of the latter, is illustrated in the way soul friends behave and lovers are portrayed. Soul friends’ qualiﬁed need of each other, in the sense of respecting each others’ individuality, means that they do not mind being physically apart for periods email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship224 of time. Screen lovers, however, spend the whole time that they are apart yearning for the moment when they will be reunited – and when they are together, they are haunted by fears that they may not be together forever. Alternatively, soul friends under- stand one another to the extent that they trust one another implicitly: when they befriend others, if to a lesser degree, the seeds of jealousy are not sown between them. Screen lovers, though, cannot in general even countenance a wandering eye, quickly detecting betrayal and the promiscuity of desire. Deep respect. Implicit trust. No distorting neediness. Even a ﬁrst look at soul friendship shows that it is nothing if not an excep- tional state. Aristotle implied that it could only form between certain individuals. He argued that if someone is not at peace with themselves, virtuous in their habits, attitudes and passions, and honestly conscious of their own self-worth to such an extent that they can get over themselves, they will not be able to befriend themselves, let alone another. He is surely right. The rarity of soul friendship does not imply that connection and belonging may not be found in other more common relationships, just that they are not necessarily of the same quality. For example, many ﬁnd a tremendous sense of belonging in a partner, others in their fam- ilies, both representing profound bonds: husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends share a jealous love, and family ties can arguably never be wholly eradicated. The point is that they are not necessarily bonds of friendship – indeed, they may be exploit- ative or oppressive. To put it another way, friendship is not the fundamental human relationship, though any acquaintance, part- nership, association, marriage or relationship of blood or love may be friendly, to greater or less degrees. Rather, friendship is some- thing that may grow from them, on occasion perhaps to share features of the closest friendships.
Timing and exceptionality Michel de Montaigne, who we brieﬂy met before, is particularly illuminating on this scarcer type of amity. His argument is that firstname.lastname@example.org because the individuals capable of soul friendship are so rare, then soul friendship itself will be even rarer; a frequency of about once every three centuries was his estimate. Unsurpris- ingly, he regarded his friendship with La Boëtie as the winning million to one shot, certainly grounds for questioning the low odds he giveseveryone else. However, if his estimation does seem exaggerated it also serves a purpose. It highlights the exceptional value of the friendship to him and carries the more general implication not so much that soul friendship is literally rare but that when it does come about it feels to the friends as if it cannot possibly be matched. There is something about such intimacy that seems unique; its worth seems inimitable and hardly communicable to others. So what then is it? It is not primarily characterised as other kinds of relationships might be, nor as other friendships – say in relation to a project done in common or a passion that is shared. Soul friendship is fundamentally the unrepeatable experi- ence of knowing, and being known, by that one, particular person. Conveying what this is like is as imposs ible as describing The Spirituality of Friendship 225 Figure 16: ‘In everything we were halves.’ (Michel de Montaigne) email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship226 the experience of thinking; it can only be experienced by doing it, by living it. Other people may be able to view and sense some of the effects of soul friendship, which is partly why it can be con- fused with falling in love or conﬂated with sentimental romance.
But the only way truly to know of such friendship is from the inside. Montaigne again: If you press me to say why I loved him I feel that it cannot be expressed except by replying: ‘Because it was him: because it was me.’ Mediating this union there was, beyond all my rea- soning, beyond all that I can say speciﬁcally about it, some inexplicable force of destiny.
However, for all that it felt like a ‘force of destiny’, the circu\ m- stances that provided such fertile grounds for the friendship between Montaigne and La Boëtie are not so elusive. Happen- stance was key to its formation; timing was everything. The fact is that the historical period in which they lived made them natural allies, so one can say something of how it comes about. Montaigne admits as much when he explains how the two knew of each other before they met. The most obvious aspect of the common ground between them was that they were both com- mitted humanists in an age when to be religiously unorthodox was dangerous. Montaigne was a close associate of the Protestant King of Navarre, who became the Catholic monarch Henri IV when he married Margot de Valois just before the infamous St Bartholomew’s Day massacre.This meant that he had many enemies, and prudence in his public pronouncements was nothing short of a matter of life and death. Alternatively, his dedication to the classical author Plutarch, whose Lives he called his breviary, could easily have been reason enough for him to be targeted by fanatics. La Boëtie ran similar risks. He was the author of a treatis\ e called On Willing Slavery, a controversial analysis of the religious hegemony of the times that led to him being accused of repub- licanism. So charged was this aspersion that in his essay on their firstname.lastname@example.org friendship, Montaigne found it necessary to defend his friend by watering down his republican convictions with assertions of his respect for the Christian laws of the land. Montaigne had read La Boëtie’s treatise before they met, and that is how he came to his attention. When they did meet, it was therefore almost to be expected that they would fall into a friendship based upon the relief of being able to share their passionate nonconformity. Montaigne indicates the joy of having such a conﬁdant when he says, ‘not only did I know his mind as well as I knew my own but I would have entrusted myself to him with greater assurance than to myself’. He is not just talking about the emotional trust that existed between them but the trust he placed in someone whose betrayal could have forfeited his life. That possibility, Montaigne says, was as unthinkable between them as killing their own chil- dren. He would have been in sympathy with Dante who put Brutus in the lowest circle of Hell for betraying his friend rather than his country. So circumstance and timing were necessary conditions for the birth of their friendship. But that is true of any friendship: it is not a sufﬁcient condition for the depth of the soul friendship that subsequently emerged. So another element to add to the alchemy that made their friendship exceptional is not just that they lived in exceptional times but also that they were excep- tional individuals: as human beings they met the conditions for close friendship that Aristotle identiﬁed. A combination of historic circumstances, good timing and human character is, then, what makes for soul friendship. There is one ﬁnal characteristic of soul friendship that Montaigne draws attention to. As it turned out, his friendship with La Boëtie was short lived. La Boëtie died four years after they met. Montaigne experienced his death as a severe loss, and he saw it as a pivotal episode in the transformation of his life. The relatively brief length of their friendship therefore serves as a ﬁnal way of interpreting soul friendship’s exceptionality: it does\ not just mean that it may be only for a chosen few, but more The Spirituality of Friendship 227 email@example.com importantly that, if it is known, it is an exceptional experience in the context of any life taken as a whole. It might be said that only some friendships have the qualities necessary to exhibit the characteristics of soul friendship, and then only from time to time – rather like the occasions when feigning in friendship gives way to moments of truth. So the story of Montaigne and La Boëtie’s friendship draws attention to the various contingencies that must come together for two people to form a soul friendship: character and circum- stance in particular make for its exceptionality and inimitabil- ity. But even if we think that these conditions allow for such friendship more often than once every 300 years – perhaps interpreting Montaigne’s exaggeration as conveying the sense that any individual lifetime allows only one or two exceptional relationships – the implication is still that the friendship enjoyed by most individuals, for much of the time, will not attain friend- ship’s greatest potential, or know its deepest loves. In other words, the really difﬁcult question with regards to soul friend- ship is not what it is and how it comes about: the conditions for its emergence are relatively straightforward, though that does not make it any more likely; it is also pretty clear how it differs from other sorts of friendship, though the experience of soul friendship can only be fully comprehended by soul friends themselves. The harder and perhaps more pressing question for most, much of the time, is quite simply how to live without it. This was not Montaigne’s concern. He thought he’d had it. It was, though, the interest of another essayist of friendship, the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. He concurred with the basic insight: ‘Friendship may be said to require natures so rare\ and costly, each so well tempered and so happily adapted, and withal so circumstanced, that its satisfaction can very seldom be assured.’ He also recognised the sense in which a friend is another self, namely at once as familiar as you are to yourself and as strange too: ‘Let him not cease an instant to be himself. The only joy I have in his being mine, is that the not mine is mine.’ That you are simultaneously entirely comfortable with a close friend, and The Meaning of Friendship 228 firstname.lastname@example.org yet still conscious of wanting to know them better, is what makes for the expansiveness of friendship, the way it encourages you to forget yourself and discover, ﬁrst, another human being and, then, the world aside from your own world. Only a friend like you, and unlike you, provides such an invitation, makes for such excitement. The difference between Emerson and Montaigne is that Emerson did not claim to have experienced friendship in all its fullness.
Rather he believed that he could imagine what it would be like in some of the closer friendships he did have: ‘I have never known so high a fellowship as others. I please my imagination more with a circle of god-like men and women variously related to each other and between whom subsists a lofty intelligence.’ He does not there- fore celebrate the exceptionality of soul friendship as Montaigne does, but seeks instead a more practical, day-by-day account of a life lived in friendship, and yet still hoping for the best. This is what makes him our man here, the last of our wise guides on our journey through the perils and promise of friendship.
Telling it slant Emerson belonged to the school of American philosophy called New England Transcendentalism. What these individuals had in common was the conviction that the divine could be discerned in everything, that nature was symbolic of deeper realities, and that a strong character was key to throwing off the deceptions of con- formity, tradition and mere appearances. Their method was very much one of engagement. They met, published articles and gave speeches in order to progress along what they saw as a kind of spiritual journey, informed by poets and philosophers. Times of solitude were part of this exchange too. Emerson himself lived for many years in a peaceful, rural town outside Boston suitably called Concord. His essays can be thought of as philosophical sermons: in his early adult life he had been a Unitarian preacher. They are provocative reﬂections, rather than analytical discourses, designed The Spirituality of Friendship 229 email@example.com to unsettle, inspire and exhort. Mary Oliver describes their effect well: The best use of [them] bends not toward the narrow and the absolute but to the extravagant and the possible. Answers are no part of it; rather it is the opinions, the rhapsodic persua- sions, the ingrafted logics, the clues that are to the mind of the reader the possible keys to his own self-quarrels, his own predicament. This is the crux of Emerson, who does not advance straight ahead but wanders to all sides of an issue; who delivers suggestions with a kindly gesture; who opens doors and tells us to look at things for ourselves.
This commentary on his writing is worth quoting because it also conveys his idea of friendship, and we might suppose the attitude he had towards soul friendship: in Emily Dickinson’s phrase, it is found ‘in circuit’. So he rejoices more in opinions, persuasion an\ d clues than in narrow and absolute convictions; he wanders, thinks kindly, and opens doors through which he and his readers can look together. He devoted one essay solely to friendship, and it too is not merely an abstract account of the characteristics of amity but in its style and approach evokes the dynamics of the friendships he formed within the transcendentalist circle. This is important for the spirituality of friendship that he wants to convey; it is not like a mathematical formula that can be simply read off the page but must be inhabited by the reader. Again, it’s an art, not a science. We can get a sense of that here by coming to the essay via arguably the most famous of Emerson’s friend ships, the one he shared with Margaret Fuller. They met when Fuller visited the Emerson household for three weeks in the summer of 1836. He was 33 and did not take to her at ﬁrst, commenting in his journal on her extreme plainness, distracting eye movements and nasal voice. However, her mind won him over:
She has the quickest apprehension and immediately learned all we knew and had us at her mercy when she pleased to make The Meaning of Friendship 230 firstname.lastname@example.org us laugh. She has noble traits and powers and cannot fail of a permanent success.
Strangely though, their friendship developed an uneasy under- current – some have said a fault – that resulted from an imbal- ance in their affections. He deeply respected her intellect but she was put off by his apparent emotional coolness towards her. It is easy to read this as some kind of psychological defect in Emerson: he had already remarried once after the death of his ﬁrst wife, and perhaps feared losing the affections of another woman.
Even so, he did not reject her. Far from it. He invited her to attend meetings of the transcendentalist circle to which she contributed so much that he then asked her to edit their journal The Dial.
Then, 12 years after their ﬁrst meeting, Fuller went to Italy. When, two years later, the ship on which she was returning was disas- trously hit by a hurricane and wrecked within sight of Fire Island, killing her, Emerson was grief-struck and showed it; he begged that the wreckage be searched for personal effects, anything by which to remember her, though none were found. His essay on friendship was written before this disaster but expresses his feelings towards her, I think, when he talks of friends ‘going to Europe’. He admits he will have languid moods and will regret ‘the lost literature of your mind, and wish you were by my side again’. He will feel robbed for a while of some joy. However, he is consoled by the thought that he will be repaid later with more, and that the spiritual tie he seeks in friendship is far stronger than that offered by romantic love and physical proxim- ity. And anyway, Europe is hardly a destination likely to keep anyone for ever, he thinks, being only an ‘old faded garment of dead persons’. The tragedy is that it was not Europe that stole Fuller from him but the storms of the American Atlantic coast. His essay carries lines that almost seem to have foreseen this disaster: ‘Ah! Seest thou not, O brother, that thus we part only to meet again on a higher platform, and only be more each other’s because we are more our own?’ Therefore, it is wrong, I think, to put Emerson’s The Spirituality of Friendship 231 email@example.com lack of a soul friend down to an inability to connect emotionally.
Something more subtle is going on, something about the spiritual- ity of friendship and the very possibility of soul friendship that his essay provokes us to ponder and reﬂect on ourselves.
Mere friendship It begins by celebrating the little wells of friendliness that are to be\ found in many parts of life: ‘We have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken.’ This is particularly clear when it comes to the\ affection individuals routinely show to complete strangers. If, for example, we welcome a stranger into our house, it is possible to show them a wealth of hospitality, conviviality and generosity that we might never have agreed to give in advance. Moreover, we receive back from them the blessing of their acquaintance as a result. However, there are certain conditions attached to such mere friendliness, for it is quickly scuppered if the stranger over- steps the mark: if he ‘intrude[s] his partialities, his deﬁnitions\ , his defects into the conversation, it is all over’. The risk is that affr\ ont and then familiarity breed contempt. In other words, though friendliness bathes the human family with ‘an element of love like a ﬁne ether’, it is also as thin; disturb it with even a slight cu\ rrent of indignity and it disperses like smoke. Much of the essay describes such thin friendship, shared in pleasant enough but ephemeral relationships. Emerson sounds quite Nietzschean: even relatively good friendships can be buffeted by ‘bafﬂed blows’, ‘sudden, unseasonable apathies’\ , ‘epilepsies of wit and of animal spirits’, he says. Such subtle antagonisms begin to play on the friendship and turn its ‘poetry into stale prose’; ‘in the golden hour of friendship we\ are surprised with shades of suspicion and unbelief’. This can be distressing and, in response, many are tempted to overestimate even obviously weak friendships. They prefer to be in denial of friendship’s pains and disappointments than admit that these and perhaps most friendships are woven of ‘cobwebs not cloth’, of ‘wine and dreams’, not the ‘tough ﬁbres of the heart’.
The Meaning of Friendship 232 firstname.lastname@example.org Others aim at the petty beneﬁts of friendship; they are cherry- pickers in the business of friendship, going for the quick wins and low-hanging fruit, rather than waiting for the deeper friendship that ‘many summers and many winters must ripen’. In a similarly horticultural vein, Emerson notes that it is only natural to want to pick the beautiful ﬂowers thrown up by the majority of friend- ships, and to hope that the wiry roots buried in the damp, dark soil of another’s character, soul or mind do not come with them.
Nature provides another way of analysing this predicament: ‘Is it not that the soul puts forth friends as the tree puts forth leaves, and presently, by the germination of new buds, extrudes the old leaf?’ Rotation is a law of human relationships as much as a law of nature. What is the problem with friendship? Why is it in general so readily altered and so rarely simply true? The fundamental reason is again familiar from Nietzsche:
Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellowman by compliments, by gossip, by amuse- ments, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds.
Later Emerson adds: ‘To most of us society shows not its face and eye, but its side and its back.’ So for friendship to grow into something closer, people must ﬁrst be able to be themselves: ‘We must be our own before we can be another’s … There can never be deep peace between two spirits, never mutual respect, until in their dialogue each stands for the whole world.’ That this is hard to achieve, as Aristotle and Montaigne pointed out, means that friendship is too often a kind of descent or a compromise: ‘What a perpetual disappoint- ment is actual society, even of the virtuous and gifted!’ If most friends were to write truly honest letters to each other, Emerson speculates, they would have to confess how often they had failed one another. The Spirituality of Friendship 233 email@example.com If Emerson is majoring on the ambiguity of dissimulation, I suspect that his tone would have been similar if he had consid- ered the ambiguity associated with sexuality (hence I suspect the perception that he was aloof towards Fuller – he sought a friend- ship not an affair) and the ambiguity that derives from a work- like, utility-driven culture (the transcendentalists stood against this, valuing ‘useless’ things like beauty in nature over and against th\ e commercial milieu of nineteenth-century America). But for all that it might be tempting to derive an overwhelming sense of dis- appointment towards friendship from this side of his essay, it is not, I think, the ﬁnal reaction he intended. Emerson did not lose faith in friendship but rather sought to identify what was often compromised in it. His hope is that, in so doing, the superior value of a deeper kind of friendship might become clearer. Such friendship is not of the merely friendly kind, for all that that sociability makes the world pleasant and bearable. Rather, it over- comes the ‘thick walls of individual character, relation, age, sex, circumstance’. It is a friendship that deepens lives: ‘High thanks\ I owe you, excellent lovers, who carry out the world for me to new and noble depths, and enlarge the meaning of all my thoughts.’ All in all, Emerson’s aim is to derive a positive attitude from the uncertainties of friendship. It is only by entering into the ambiguities of friendship that its higher possibilities may be dis- cerned; it is only then that the weaknesses of character and the contingencies of time that would inhibit it are overcome. His essay is an exercise in sifting the wheat from the chaff, and treating the matter of friendship with what he calls the ‘rough- est courage’.
‘To do without it’ This is good advice: it takes courage to acknowledge that shal- lower friendships, though pleasant, are only cursory, and that deeper friendships because they are real need not be handled with kid gloves but can cope with the rougher, tougher exchanges of transformative, signiﬁcant relationships: ‘they are not glass The Meaning of Friendship 234 firstname.lastname@example.org threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know’. It is also key to a practical spirituality of friendship – ‘friendship, like \ the immortality of the soul, too good to be believed’ – to which he is\ now in a position to turn. He does not actually use the phrase soul friendship. His tran- scendentalist language prefers the phrase ‘divine friendship’, per\ haps echoing some of the earlier Christian writers who came to feel that God is friendship. Emerson himself has a pantheistic idea of God.
The divine is not above but is found within the people and th ings around him: ‘My friends have come to me unsought. The great God gave them to me’, he says. So soul friendship is therefore divine in two senses. First, it shows a god-like honesty of mind.
Second, it enjoys a god-like honesty of affection. This is what he imagines soul friendship is like. Consider these aspects in turn. A god-like honesty of mind exhibits itself as a truthfulness between individuals that is uncompromised and unmediated:
‘Who hears me, who under stands me, becomes mine – a posses- sion for all time’; ‘A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.’ It can indeed be charac- terised as like those rare encounters in which dissimulation, second-guessing what someone wants to hear, and even courtesy for courtesy’s sake, are dropped. Then people deal with each other in simplicity and wholeness: ‘A friend is a sane man who exercises not my ingenuity, but me.’ In his essay, Emerson does not just stick to lofty phrases but illustrates what he imagines such friendship to be like in practice.
This is doubly informative because the occasion he turns to is not with an intimate such as Fuller, but refers unexpectedly back to the time when he was still working as a preacher. He was a minister in the Second Church (Unitarian) in Boston for three years, having graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1829.
He left the church at the age of 29 because he experienced a voc- ational change of heart: he came to believe that holy communion was not sacramental. Such a theological change profoundly under- mines the role of a minister whose vocation revolves around the administration of the sacraments, and unsurprisingly it was not The Spirituality of Friendship 235 email@example.com something his congregation readily understood or liked. However, they did respect his forthrightness – his honesty – and it is for \ this reason that he came to remember the departure as one of friend- ship: it had been a moment of god-like truthfulness with the con- gregation. Further, that he shared this with his congregation again underlines his point: as any minister of religion will tell you, con- cern with things divine is a rarity compared to the daily grind of indulging a congregation’s ‘whims of religion and philanthropy’\ , as Emerson himself put it. In fact, his congregation did at ﬁrst think him mad, apparently linking his apparent loss of faith to the loss of his wife. But as they listened they came to understand him better, a testament to his desire for truthfulness: ‘To stand in true relations with men in a false age is worth a ﬁt of insanity, is it not?’ It was therefore \ an intimation of soul friendship. The second aspect, honesty of affection, must similarly cut through much ‘mush of concession’. The ambiguity that causes the difﬁculty here is that people are tied to each other in all sorts\ of ways – by blood, pride, fear, hope, money, lust, hate, admira- tion – but rarely by love alone. To be able to offer another tender- ness as a result of pure love and not some more compromised affection is to achieve a blessed state indeed: ‘When a man becomes dear to me I have touched the very goal of fortune.’ Emerson is interesting in the way he chooses to expand on this quality of soul friendship too because he again suggests that it is best glimpsed in utterly practical and perhaps unexpected ways. He says there is something more emotionally honest in friendship with ‘ploughboys’ and ‘tin-peddlers’, in the shared frivolit\ y and rides – today we could add friendship in chat rooms or pubs – than there is in a pretence of high friendship with more ‘learne\ d acquaintances’. His point is that friendship must plant its feet on the ground ‘before it vaults over the moon’, and friends must lear\ n to be good citizens to one another before they are ‘cherubs’. If t\ hey do not, then their so-called divine love will risk revealing itself as a\ token wrapped up in sentimental affection. Such friends exchange gifts, offer loans, pretend at good neighbourliness, and so on, for The Meaning of Friendship 236 firstname.lastname@example.org the beneﬁt it brings them, not in the hope of genuine relationship itself. By way of illustration, and no doubt recalling its worst excesses, he contemplates that great institution of middle-class friendliness, the dinner party.
Why insist on rash personal relations with your friend? Why go to his house, or know his mother and brother and sisters?
Why be visited by him at your own? Are these things material to our covenant? Leave this touch and clawing. Let him be to me a spirit. A message, a thought, a sincerity, a glance from him, I want, but not news, or pottage. I can get politics and chat and neighbourly conveniences from cheaper companions.
Should not the society of my friend be to me poetic, pure, universal and great as nature itself?
Nietzsche could not have composed a wittier aphorism when Emerson wrote: ‘Are you a friend of your friend’s buttons, or of his thought?’ It is almost as if Emerson envisages three broad categories of friendship. One is common, mundane and passing, though warm-hearted, honest within its own limits, and friendly as a result. Another is rare, ‘divine’, and demands a searching integri\ ty and immediacy of encounter. This is the sort that may even on occasion be called soul friendship, though more often is experi- enced in the best moments of good friendship. In between the two lies a third and arguably the worst: friendship that hopes or pre- tends it is more but ultimately rests on a wish or facade. There will almost certainly be movement between the different types. But it is particularly in admitting to the existence of the third group of friends that the right attitude towards soul friendship is found. The temptation is to think or hope that these ones are more than they are. But fooling yourself of that is actually to plump for less. This is, therefore, the key to the spirituality of friend ship: ‘The condition which high friendship demands is the ability to do without it.’ Paradoxically, soul friendship is not best sought by The Spirituality of Friendship 237 email@example.com striving for it. The best thing to do is, in a sense, to forget it and practise truthfulness instead – honesty in oneself, towards others, and in any friendship that arises. As truthfulness is something that must be practised and is rarely perfected, this is another way of expressing the rarity of soul friendship. To put it another way, the best stance to adopt to be open to the potential in friendship is in hope – to live expectantly though with the expectation that it will never be wholly realised or experi- enced unalloyed. Perhaps, in fact, all love is like this: when you tell someone you love them – in an erotic relationship as in a friendship – you love, in part, that which you don’t yet know, and\ that which you hope might be disclosed to you. Alexander Nehamas has reﬂected that beauty – the thing which we see in someone we want to know, whether in their face or in their soul – ‘points to the future, and we pursue it without knowing what it will yield.’ He continues: ‘Beauty inspires desires without lettin\ g me know what they are for.’ Or we might say that to love someone is the promise, but only the promise, of happiness. Even Mon- taigne only had a soul friend for a short while; even he had to reconcile himself to the reality of normal life when La Boëtie died. \ This is not so odd or fatalistic as it may ﬁrst seem. For example, it\ is very similar to what is often said about happiness: the thing that kills it is wanting it; but living as if happiness were not the goal of life actually makes for it. (Not that such a neat summary makes the actual living any easier.) For many, like Aristotle, happiness is friendship, at least in part, so, in the same way that most people keep faith with happiness when they do not have it, Emerson advocates never losing faith in the highest aspirations of friend- ship. ‘I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new,’ he writes. And again: ‘I chide soci\ ety, I embrace solitude, and yet I am not so ungrateful as not to see the wise, the lovely and the noble-minded, as from time to time they pass my gate.’ This paradox is not meant to decry close friendship.
It is designed to provoke a recognition of the everyday limitations of friendship, and ultimately of being human – limitations that are never more keenly felt than in encounters with others. It provokes The Meaning of Friendship 238 firstname.lastname@example.org the development of an ethos, a spirituality of friendship, that makes for the possibility that these limitations may on occasion be overcome. The brilliance of Emerson’s wandering essay is that its oscilla- tions between high ideals and lower reality precisely reﬂects the possibility of something more in friendship; it mirrors what friendship is like in life. For most of the time friendship exists within the limits of its inherent ambiguities, but sometimes, if only ﬂeetingly, it shows itself to be capable of much more. A number of Emerson’s aphorisms resonate with these moments of transcendence:
Let him be to thee for ever a sort of beautiful enemy, untamable, devoutly revered, and not a trivial conveniency to be soon outgrown and cast aside.
[Friendship] treats its object as a god, that it may deify both.
At other times he adopts an eschatological tone to capture the promise: Let the soul be assured that somewhere in the universe it should rejoin its friend, and it would be content and cheerful alone for a thousand years.
The higher the style we demand of friendship, of course the less easy to establish it with ﬂesh and blood … But a sublime hope cheers ever the faithful heart, that elsewhere, in other regions of the universal power, souls are now acting, endur- ing and daring, which can love us and which we can love.
Leave to the diamond its ages to grow, nor expect to accelerate the births of the eternal.
The ‘rougher courage’ required for this attitude towards friendship is similarly expressed. For example, Emerson can say that he does not The Spirituality of Friendship 239 email@example.com fear the times when he is not with a close friend, or the times when such friendship is absent in the relationships he has, because the spiritual nature of the connection once made is no less vivid for not being currently present: ‘my relation with them is so pure that we hold by simple afﬁnity’. Alternatively, the lon\ g days or moments of relative loneliness, when life is felt to be humdrum and full of longing, should be thought of as prepara- tion for the moment of true friendship: ‘Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day.’ And, Emerson adds, even if the longing for soul friendship is ultimately unrequited, it will still enlarge the soul: ‘It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reﬂecting planet.’ The spirituality of friendship is therefore dynamic; it moves from below up. It does not posit a high ideal of friendship as if it were The Meaning of Friendship 240 Figure 17: ‘I hate the prostitutions of the name of friendship to signify modish and worldly alliances.’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson) firstname.lastname@example.org merely a goal to achieve, and which if achieved would suggest that the quest was somehow over. After all, friendship itself would come to an end if the desire to get to know another some more ceased. Nor does it analyse the ‘low’ vicissitudes of friendship solely to reveal the shape and extent of the ambiguities that is the stuff of most relationships, and leave it at that. But, on the assump- tion that all friendships start from below, it suggests a dynamic process of sifting, discernment, patience, personal struggle and gratitude – sometimes moving up, sometimes sliding down – that opens up the possibility for some friendships to aspire to and realise the best. And when life is lived less than fully – ‘I have often had ﬁne fancies about persons which have given me delicious hours; but the joy ends in the day; it yields no fruit. Thought is not born of it; my action is not modiﬁed’ – the ability to do without it is\ not without its consolations either. Two stand out. First, a high, dynamic doctrine of friendship will tend to value all kinds of friendship and refuse to allow any one to remain as ‘mere’ friendship. Rather, because such an attitude demands much of friendship, the result is that many good friendships are likely to be enjoyed. This is what is meant when we say someone has a gift for friendship: not that they necessarily have a soul friend but that they value friends. Second, should it come about, soul friendship is not something that only beneﬁts the individuals when actually possessed. Rather, when momentarily or over time two people form a connection unsullied by the usual ambiguous affections of life, free of the complexities of feigning, it is something that potentially stays with them for ever. We say that a connection has been made – ‘we connected’ – and the remembrance of that is in some ways as important as the moment itself. It is enough. As Menander once commented: ‘A man is happy if he has merely encountered the shadow of a friend.’ The Spirituality of Friendship 241 email@example.com 242 Friendship Beyond Self-help ‘The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.’ William Blake We have searched through the philosophical tradition and other cultural resources to illuminate the perils and promise of friend- ship. I have had Tom Stoppard’s comments in mind, when, reﬂecting on the romp that is his play Jumpers in a radio interview, he said:
The area of moral philosophy [is] an open house for the lay- man, the non-philosopher, the curious human being because most of the questions which preoccupy professional philo- sophers are only an elevated more technical version of the kind of question which any sentient human being asks himself or herself while burning the toast.
What’s striking, then, is that today, when people ask themselves about friendship – when their curiosity is peaked – they don’t \ gen- erally turn to philosophy. They turn, instead, to self-help. Philo- sophers must bear much of the blame for that, for philosophy needn’t be arid and dry when it comes to the richest and most ani- mating questions we have. But it’s not just that by missing out on philosophy we miss out on its insights. Rather, there are good grounds for fearing that when it comes to friendship, the broad characteristics of the self-help tradition may be doing us a profound disservice. It’s that concern which will be a good one to end on. Self-help’s fatal ﬂaw The central problem with self-help books on friendship is this: by placing you yourself at the centre of the universe, as self-help firstname.lastname@example.org Friendship Beyond Self-help243 almost invariably does, it treats everyone else in the universe as bit players in the story of your life. Hence friends cease to be other people, who you might know and love as persons in their own right, and are regarded as sources for the various elements that you need in your life – one friend to shop with, another friend to cry with; another again to laugh with, and someone else to rebel with. Friends, in short, as service providers. And as everyone knows, the minute your friends start to feel used, for all that they may otherwise be happy to be useful, is the minute your friend- ship starts to fall apart. Hence, self-help books on friendship run a grave risk, namely of destroying friendships. It’s a point that seems supported by the evidence. It’s 150 years since the self-help genre was born, when Samuel Smiles published his book Self-Help in 1859. It was a best- seller. Readers wanted more. It was only a question of time before How To Win Friends And Inﬂuence People appeared.Only why, one might ask, the retrospective sense of inevitability about the bur- geoning self-help industry, today worth billions of dollars. Surely, there’s only one explanation. Self-help doesn’t really work. People need to keep buying more. If Smiles had been right, there would only have been one self-help book written, his.
There’s a related problem. Perhaps the key to a fulﬁlled life is not to be self-centred but other-centred, to lose yourself in order to ﬁnd it. That’s a common religious sentiment, and it’s one attested to by the experience of friendship too. Aristotle has a particularly powerful account of it, when he talks of the friend being another self, the person not just in whom you see yourself reﬂected but in who you discover yourself. There is no being human on a desert island, anymore than there are such things as solitary ants. The good life is the attempt to live for others in life. As Iris Murdoch has it, love is ‘the painful realisation that something other than myself exists’. This perhaps partly explains why there is no end to self-help books. They are condemned to struggle with this conundrum:
the solution they offer – attend to yourself – is actually part of\ the problem, being self-centred. To be fair, some self-help books email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship244 realise this. One of the best sellers of all time, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, opens with the line: ‘It’s not about you.’ On\ ly the rest of the book is entirely about you. How have we reached this point? What’s gone wrong? One key issue is that it’s very easy, in the modern world, to become your own project: it’s as if there is no other point to life apart from your own interests. To put it another way, we are social animals, and yet much of the time the contemporary environment encour- ages us to live solipsistic lives. There are many examples of this crux. In fact, once you become aware of it, you start to see it everywhere. I live in London, and the skyline along the River Thames is dominated by two buildings: the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and the gerkin shape of the Swiss Re skyscraper. They stand out because of their striking curves. And yet those shapes represent two very different views of life. St Paul’s is a building designed to\ hold people and, when congregations assemble under that dome, they look up and are presented with a vision of another world: the celestial heights. The goal of your life is not located in your own life, the dome says: it is to be found outside of yourself. Contrast that with the Swiss Re skyscraper, another building designed to hold people: go in and look up. What you see are mostly just ceiling panels concealing wires and ducts. There is no other world in the gerkin. People are there to work on the project that is their career. Here’s another example that strikes me as I write. It’s the month of Ramadan, the period during which Muslims fast. Fasting is, of course, very common in modern society, only usually it is called dieting. And therein lies the difference: fasting is supposed to open you up to a wider view of things; dieting is solely to attend to yourself. Another very current case concerns environmentalism. The vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is a threat, and that we must alter our behaviour now. However, climate change is not much of a threat to us now, at least those of us who live in the developed world: it’s worst will not become apparent for at least a firstname.lastname@example.org generation or two. In other words, if people are to be persuaded to act for the sake of the environment, they must be persuaded to do it for others, not themselves. That, it seems, is a very hard case to make.Another example comes from the life of the philosopher John Stuart Mill. He wrote a lot on happiness, not least because in his late teens he had a massive breakdown, even contemplating suicide for a while. He felt there was no way out, until he dis- covered the poetry of the Romantics, and their rich appreciation of the countryside. Mill realised that his mistake had been to think that he would discover happiness by working on his own life. Now he knew he would not. Rather, as his awakening to the beauty of the natural world around him showed, he had to centre his projects in life on things and people beyond him self. ‘Those only are happy who have there minds ﬁxed on some other project than their own happiness,’ he wrote. It is surely no coincidence that once he realised this, and began to pull out of his depression, he formed a powerful friendship with Harriet Taylor. It prompted a virtual paen to the blessings of other-love, of amity, as in his Autobiography, he writes:
It was at the period of my mental progress which I have now reached that I formed the friendship which has been the honour and chief blessing of my existence, as well as the source of a great part of all that I have attempted to do, or hope to effect hereafter, for human improvement … To her outer circle she was a beauty and a wit, with an air of natural distinction, felt by all who approached her: to the inner, a woman of deep and strong feeling, of penetrating and intuitive intelligence, and of an eminently meditative and poetic nature … Into this circle I had the good fortune to be admitted, and I soon per- ceived that she possessed in combination, the qualities which in all other persons whom I had known I had been only too happy to ﬁnd singly … To be admitted into any degree of mental intercourse with a being of these qualities, could not but have a most beneﬁcial inﬂuence on my development; Friendship Beyond Self-help 245 email@example.com The Meaning of Friendship246 though the effect was only gradual, and many years elapsed before her mental progress and mine went forward in the com- plete companionship they at last attained. The beneﬁt I received was far greater than any which I could hope to give … What I owe, even intellectually, to her, is, in its detail, almost inﬁnite; of its general character, a few words will give some, though a very imperfect, idea.
There’s a related problem embedded in Mill’s experience, which exposes another facet of the self-help nexus, how it sees the busi- ness of love. It too is too focused on the self-interested aspects of loving, missing out how love is actually love of another. The psychologist, Erich Fromm, provides an excellent analysis of the matter in his book, The Art of Loving. When two people meet, he noted, they are, by deﬁnition, strangers. If they then sud- denly feel close to one another, and the walls between them come down – which is to say they start to fall in love – that leads to what can be possibly the most exhilarating and exciting experi- ence in life. It seems wonderful and miraculous, not least for someone who has for some time being looking for the ‘right person’, their lost half. Surely this is it, they are bound to ask, o\ r hope. Sexual attraction is the powerful, physical expression of that newfound intimacy. Loneliness appears banished to memory. However, in Fromm’s analysis, falling in love cannot be lasting. It is premised on the meeting of strangers. Once you stop being a stranger to this new person, and they stop feeling delightfully strange to you, the feeling of falling for them, and its exhilaration, will ease off too. What was miraculous starts to feel humdrum.
The risk is that disappointment rushes in, quite possibly followed by the resurfacing of irritations and anxieties. They conspire to negate the previous experience. It’s easy to assume that if you were falling in love, you’ve now fallen out of love; the temptation is to call the whole thing off. Your life looks boring again, which is presumably why marketers do not try to sell it to us. This sets up a paradox though. The passion associated with falling in love is not actually a measure of true love, but rather is a firstname.lastname@example.org measure of the speed with which you collapsed into the arms of a stranger. At best, falling in love is just one element of love. At worst, it has little to do with love at all – as the notion of ‘fa\ lling’ might suggest. The danger is that individuals become addicted to the thrill of falling in love, much as they might to the heights induced by drugs. Such an individual has a series of relationships, in succession or concurrently, and ﬁnds it hard to hold a rela- tionship down. They are living a life of self-centred love affairs, where the determining factor is the pleasure or security or companionship their lover delivers to them. Standing in love is different. Unlike falling in love, which is premised on the fact that the lovers are still more or less strangers, to stand in love is to love a person because they are as well known to you as you are to yourself. Falling in love becomes standing in love, if it does, when the thrill of the unknown becomes the delight of knowing another and being known by them. It is the love of friendship and whilst it will no doubt not be perfect, it is focused on the other person. Just how unlike standing in love is compared with falling in love can be gleaned by thinking about the difference between being with individuals who are falling in love and with indi- viduals who are standing in love. The ﬁrst couple – the new lovers – are typically discomforting to be with. They are so in love with each other that they have little concern for anyone else. It’s the lovey-dovey syndrome. It is annoying to have to share an evening with them or sit opposite them on the train. They are so absorbed in each other that they do not notice the rest of the world. You are left out. You feel alone when with them. Being with people who are standing in love is entirely different.
It is a joy. The nicest people to know are those who are in love with each other and who make you feel part of their love. Stand- ing in love bids you welcome too. Such lovers have learnt the art of love with each other and it results in generating a care and concern for others. Fromm’s analysis of the difference between falling in love and standing in love continues in this way. When you fall in love, you Friendship Beyond Self-help 247 email@example.com want your partner to be faithful to you because if they are not, it threatens you with loneliness again. The lover might leave you, and leave you desolate. This is one source of the possessiveness that love can exhibit. When you stand in love, though, you still want your partner to be faithful to you but not because of any pos- sessiveness. Rather, it is because the relationship has come to repre- sent the trust that ideally exists between all human beings when they relate well to each other. It is an expression of an inclusive love for others, potentially perhaps for all humankind. That, again, might be called friendship. It’s a facet of human life that self-help\ either undermines or at least ﬁnds difﬁcult to accommodate.
A mutual scratching of backs There’s a third self-oriented facet of contemporary culture that shapes self-help, and represents a threat to friendship. It’s the way in which the worth of every thing is assessed by way of a cost- beneﬁt analysis: we are encouraged to do things – like say thank you or smile at strangers – not because it is good to be grateful and\ friendly but because exhibiting gratitude and friendliness comes with the promise of personal happiness in return. It makes you feel good. It’s the morality not of do as you would be done unto, but do because it delivers. There’s a particularly insidious form of this cost-beneﬁt analysis\ that colours many contemporary discussions of friendship, and focuses on the concept of reciprocal altruism. Reciprocal altruism can be crudely translated as ‘if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch\ yours’, though it is more sophisticated than that. A discipline withi\ n economics, game theory, has provided a fuller account. What the theory shows is that when playing hypothetical games, a successful strategy is one in which individuals act as if in the interests of others. Take the game of tit-for-tat. It turns out that a good way to win is to treat the other players as you have yourself been treated. If another player has cooperated, then cooperation is recip- rocated. If not, then cooperation is withheld. Now the tit-for-tat tactic appears to favour the other players, and so appears to be an The Meaning of Friendship 248 firstname.lastname@example.org act in their interest, which is why it has been labelled altruism.
But the altruism is only adopted because of the reciprocal element:
if it’s good for them, it’s ﬁrst good for you. That’s why yo\ u do it.
Game theory propagates the reductive idea that my self-interest is served by pretending to be interested in others. In truth, that’s the\ self-help doctrine in scientiﬁc guise.Incidentally, the individualistic approach to moral behaviour implicit in game theory was not one that Charles Darwin shared, for all that evolutionary theory today goes by the name of Darwin- ism. He believed that social animals, like human beings, are social to their very core, not that they are essentially selﬁsh and must somehow strap altruism onto their nature. So, in The Descent of Man, he rejects the reductive assumption that the foundation of moral behaviour lies in selﬁshness, and asserts that ‘the moral sense is fundamentally identical with the social instincts’. Hence, there is no need for the moral gymnastics implicit in reciprocal altruism and enlightened self-interest. Darwin continues: ‘The reproach of laying the foundation of the most noble part of our nature in the base principle of selﬁshness is removed.’ Not that t\ he great man’s observations have stopped subsequent evolutionists from impugning human beings with selﬁsh essences, as game theory tends to do, and as self-help tends to build into its fundamental philosophy too. From that theory a self-help thought follows: if natural selection favours the optimal organisation of personal relationships then maybe we should favour it too. And herein lies the insidious effect that the analysis of reciprocal altruism has upon friend- ship. It applauds calculation. In the how-to-win-friends world, we should do unto others because it’s good for us. Do the cost–beneﬁt analysis. Defenders of reciprocal altruism attempt to defend its virtue on two fronts. First, they argue that it explains why we make the strangers who surround us ‘honorary friends’. That’s good, since it makes for a functioning society. Second, they argue that the science supports friendship as a natural tendency, and as such it should be valued. The world may be driven by self-interest, but Friendship Beyond Self-help 249 email@example.com actually that is no terminal state of affairs: like Adam Smith’s invisible hand, much good is the result.However, I’m not sure this adds up. For one thing, the science itself is highly speculative. Just because game theory and its deriv- atives comes up with the concept of reciprocal altruism does not mean that many tens of thousands of years ago, when human beings were evolving, tit-for-tat operated on the Savannah. We’ve already seen how the economists’ model of rational economic man is ﬂawed. Perhaps reciprocal altruism is too. Then there is the cost-beneﬁt ideology itself. Sympathy, even friendship, is a phenomenon that undoubtedly exists in nature, and is not limited to human beings. One of the most important studies of altruism amongst chimpanzees and bonobos has been carried out by Frans de Waal. He has seen these apes perform remarkable acts for one another, and even for different species. It’s led him to conclude\ that whilst they are quite capable of calculation, and understand that generosity pays dividends, the concept of reciprocal altruism is not adequate as an explanation for everything he has observed. Why would an ape help a bird, an act he once saw? Why risk its own death to save a member not of its own kin but of another species? Behind the selﬁsh imperatives that are deployed as biological explanations, de Waal detects something else at work. We are being hauled into ‘a Hobbesian arena in which it’s every man for himself\ , where people show generosity only to trick others. Love is unheard of, sympathy is absent, and goodness a mere illusion,’ he writes. De Waal certainly believes that our altruistic instincts are natural. Only they are genuine too. He continues: ‘We should be happy that this dark, forbidding place is pure fantasy, that it differs radically from the actual world in which we laugh, cry, make love, and fawn over babies.’ The actual world is one in which others can matter for their own sake. The implication is that game theory’s cost–beneﬁ\ t analysis is not something read out of nature but into nature. A related point is that without a prior concept of friendship, it is hard to see how forms of human interaction that are purely instrumental could be thought of as friendship at all. Why would tit-for-tat suggest anything above a contractual arrangement char- The Meaning of Friendship 250 firstname.lastname@example.org acterised by commitment but indifference? The suspicion is that friendship is being read back into the situations the economists and biologists observe. It is suggested that friendship arises as a kind of excess of feeling: in small groups, as presumably existed in times past, an individual’s welfare was so caught up with others that it le\ ft a legacy so that even when my welfare now will be compromised by helping you, I will do so. Charity was born and the rest is history.
But friendship isn’t like that. For one thing, putting anything down to an excess is obfuscation not explanation. For another, it doesn’t account for the non-fungibility of friendship: my sense of connec- tion to my friend doesn’t become so deep because our mutual welfare becomes so entwined, though it may do; it becomes so deep because it’s you, the person who is my friend. No one else will do.
Reciprocal altruism misses out on that fundamentally important characteristic of the most humanly signiﬁcant relationships we have. Or again, there is the fact that human beings do things that are bizarre and inexplicable in the cost–beneﬁt world: greater lov\ e hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend. That surely is going too far – only in real life, people value such acts not as irrational and excessive but as inspiring and heroic.The situation interestingly mirrors Aristotle’s categorisation of friendship. The ﬁrst two types he observed – utility friendships s\ uch as those typically found at work, and pleasure friendships such as those shared by people who enjoy doing something together – depend upon the shared activity that is external to the relationshi\ p itself. Take away the work, or the enjoyment, and the friendship will stumble too. His third sort of friendship – knowing and loving some- one for who they are in themselves regardless of beneﬁt or exchange – is, therefore, the quintessential type, the kind because of which we think of the other types of human interaction as friendship too; they share some of the characteristics of the best. In logical terms, Aristotle’s quintessential friendship is prior to the other, lesser t\ ypes.
Those other types can only be thought of as friendship because we have an idea, or a hope, of friendship in its best sense, where there is\ no exchange or utility but only the delight of knowing another person, and being known by them. The lesson seems to be that we Friendship Beyond Self-help 251 email@example.com too should value friendship for its own sake if we want to live lives of friendship.Failing to do that is perhaps why so much self-help on friend- ship misses out on what Aristotle makes clear as basic: close friend- ship requires an individual to possess a greater range of qualities than just a fulsome capacity for reciprocal goodwill. It requires a proper sort of self-regard – the kind that allows the individual to get over themselves; and a wider love of life itself – so that the individual is capable of pursuing interests that are not their own. All in all, the problem with importing a cost–beneﬁt analysis into our accounts of friendship – as the evolutionary explanations do, and as self-help picks up on in response – is that it leads us to\ treat others as ends to our interests, not as ends in themselves.
Friendship requires the opposite, for us to realise that others are persons who should be nurtured for their own sake. We don’t need calculation, we need compassion. Aristotle’s pithy aphorism comes to mind once more: friends do not put the scales centre-stage. So what to do, if you want to deepen your capacity for friend- ship no less? What tips ought one to follow? A better strategy, I’d suggest, is not to seek out some formula for friendship, but is instead to examine it yourself. This is precisely the approach adopted by Aristotle and Plato before him. They were committed to the concept of working on yourself in a pursuit of the good life.
‘Know thyself!’ was their motto. However, their approach was to seek wisdom, not to-do lists. They envisaged life as an exploration, not a programme. It’s the insight I’ve tried to follow here. What has been the result? First, we looked at how friendship engages with the utility-obsessed side of our culture, since, for all the good things it brings, the danger is that the law of productivity and consumption holds sway and friendship cannot rise above being instrumental; it risks being always determined by workplace- like demands. If, though, individuals come to like one another for who they are, and not just for what they do, a deeper friendship becomes possible. When it comes to friends and lovers, friendship’s calling is to engage with the complex maelstrom of erotic feelings that can exist The Meaning of Friendship 252 firstname.lastname@example.org between two people and from that to discern a mutually shared passion that moves above the desire for romantic union to the desire to know (not to have) the other person, and be known by them. This higher passion is focused on things beyond the couple.
It is, therefore, the same as that shared between friends who are lovers of life. It is sustainable, will grow, and should ﬂourish. Third, pretty much all friendship knows of the issue of dis- simulation – the feigning that is kind, because even virtuous individuals ﬁnd blunt honesty too harsh all of the time; that is wise, because even discerning individuals can make mistakes when judging others; and that is realistic, for most relationships depend upon a friendliness of measured not mounting affection. Once again, there is a promise that hides behind this peril: dissimulation can give way to honesty given the right circumstances, time and care. Candid friendships can transform a life with truthfulness. An apparently new environment for friendship is the internet, a place in which genuine amity is shared, and depressing animosity has become a way of life too. Only, the internet is arguably only the latest manifestation of a desire for mobility and connection that has gathered apace since the birth of the modern world. So the older philosophy of friendship still holds in the new world.
Remember that screens screen, that friending is not the same as befriending, and that it is quite possible to seek a crowd and feel lonely, not loved. Then, there is the secular appropriation of Christianity’s ten- dency to distrust friendship as a form of love. This can leave us suspicious of friendship in a way that marginalises and even outlaws it. What makes this particularly complicated is that it is the democratic systems that have given us universal rules and rights, which we rightly value, that are often the ones most anti- thetical to friendship. There are a number of issues to tease out if the value of friendship is to be revived: the subtle interplay of altruistic and egoistic motives are a major part of that. However, what is also vital is the factor identiﬁed by Thomas Aquinas, namely, the need to restore faith in the best sorts of friendship, the insight found in the belief that God is friendship, or in secular Friendship Beyond Self-help 253 email@example.com guise as the conviction that friendship is fundamentally a form of other love. The politics of friendship is another kind of struggle. In one mode friendship resists the limiting constraints of inherited social conventions, notably in terms of the dictates of tight notions of family; in another mode it is a protest against individualistic, competitive conceptions of what it is to be human; and in ano- ther it is an effort to create new forms of relationship founded upon the freedom of friendships that go against the norm. Friend- ships may ﬂourish for us in all these contexts. Finally, I have tried to outline a spirituality of friendship based upon\ the essays of Montaigne and Emerson. Success is found in circuit, to quote one poet. Or to use Keats’s phrase, soul friendship would seem to be a prime candidate for his ‘negative capability’, that abilit\ y to live life without certainty, but with an expectant open-heartedness. Given that philosophy illuminates the nature, potential and limits of the love called friendship, there is one further, ﬁnal obse\ rv- ation to make. It centres on the ﬁgure of Socrates. He has regularly popped up throughout the course of the book. At one level, this is unsurprising; he is nothing if not an emblem of wisdom. But to see his presence here solely as a result of the fact that he is a big-hitter\ is to miss a more subtle point. For Socrates, I think, philosophy and friendship are ultimately one and the same thing. According to Plato, Socrates understood the wily ambiguities of erotic love and argued that they should be seized upon as an oppor- tunity to propel lovers along a course to a relationship based upon friendship. He also understood that true friendship is scarce. One may be friends with many, as indeed he was, the outcome of a way of life which took him around the streets of Athens seeking individuals to talk with. The complicating factor for him was that his vocation as a philosopher meant that he did not seek friends to be chummy but to encourage people to understand the errors in their beliefs and the failures of their character – in fact nothing less than the limits of\ their humanity. Rare is the individual who can embrace a relationship like that, and he was often left isolated, wondering whether he would ever ﬁnd a true friend. At the same time, he never gave up hope.
The Meaning of Friendship 254 firstname.lastname@example.org Putting it another way, Socrates thought that friends should not primarily hope for happiness in one another, though that might come, but should seek together to live fuller, truer lives. This hap- pens, he believed, when individuals become wise to their ignor- ance; the wisdom gained when one understands the limits of one’s capabilities is of supreme value. It is best gained in discoursing with others, particularly when the exchange is marked by the kind of honesty that can exist between the closest of friends. Then the individuals have the opportunity not only to learn about the limit- ations of the beliefs that they hold true but also about the ﬂaws in their character and the vulnerabilities of their temperaments.
These are, after all, far deeper sources of delusion than mere ratio- nal confusion. Thus it is possible, I think, to construe the Socratic way of life as one that puts friendship centre stage. Epicurus, who in many ways followed in the same footsteps, agreed: ‘The noble man is most involved with wisdom and friendship.’ Plato’s dialogues deploy a number of metaphors and encounters that describe and portray Socrates’ approach. Probably the most famous is that of the midwife: he takes his role to be that of one who knows he knows nothing but is committed to asking ques- tions; sometimes his interlocutors ‘give birth’ to certain insight\ s as a result – ‘It is I, with God’s help, who deliver them of this \ off- spring [wisdom]’, he says in the Theaetetus. Alternatively, in the Meno, Socrates describes his method by drawing a contrast with the eristic ways of his contemporary philosophical rivals, the sophists:
‘If they are friends, as you and I are, and want to discuss with each\ other, they must answer in a manner more gentle and more proper to discussion.’ The implication is that his way of doing philosophy is in part the attempt to form a friendship. Socratic friendship is also a tough kind of love; it requires the roughest courage. Consider what he says to another charac- ter, Callicles, on the purpose of philosophy:
I think that someone who is to test adequately the soul which lives aright and the soul which does not, needs to have three qualities: knowledge, goodwill and willingness to speak freely Friendship Beyond Self-help 255 email@example.com … You [Callicles] would never have agreed with me simply because you did not know better or were too ashamed to admit you did not know, nor to deceive me; for you are my friend, as you say yourself.
As it happens Socrates is speaking ironically, for by the end of the dialogue in which this exchange is recorded, the Gorgias, Callicles has betrayed every one of the intimacies that they might have shared. His vanity could not take Socrates’ probing enquiry. How- ever, what Socrates says to Callicles reads like a summary of friendship. It includes goodwill and a willingness to speak freely.
It does not require individuals to be knowledgeable; rather they must have a passion for wisdom in Socrates’ sense. Finally, the most promising candidates for friendship will show themselves to be honest, particularly when it comes to their self-awareness. So it is not just Montaigne and Nietzsche, Emerson and Aelred who developed a dynamic ethos or spirituality of friendship char- acterised as the struggle to rise above life’s everyday ambiguities. \ At the origins of western philosophy is the same notion in which, at its best, doing philosophy and becoming friends are one and the same thing. Socratic friendship suggests that at least one con- ception of philosophy is itself caught up in this same dynamic.
Friendship is the desire to know another and be known by them – in Emerson’s phrase, they delight as they exclaim to one another\ , ‘Do you see the same truth?’ Philosophy is not, therefore, just illuminating of friendship. The very possibility of friendship lies at the heart of philosophy. They come together partly because as Aristotle commented, ‘we are better able to observe our friends than ourselves and their actions than our own’. But more so because to truly befriend others is to stare life’s uncertainties, li\ mits and ambiguities in the face. To seek friendship is to seek wisdom. The Meaning of Friendship 256 firstname.lastname@example.org 257 Further Reading and References Introduction Ray Pahl’s research mentioned here was carried out for the launch of the Blackberry Pearl.Aristotle’s examination of friendship is found in his Nico- machean Ethics chapters VIII and IX. A new translation, intro- duction and commentary by Sarah Broadie and Christopher Rowe published by Oxford University Press (2002) is clear and helpful. All my quotes from Aristotle come from this Ethics unless stated. He does discuss friendship elsewhere, notably in the Eudemian Ethics which is usually taken to be the main source for the Nicomachean Ethics. And also in the Art of Rhetoric 6.2.4.
The thought experiment of Nietzsche is from Human, All Too Human Volume I, 376.
In writing the new edition of this book, I’ve been indebted to Alexander Nehamas’ Gifford Lectures of 2008, entitled ‘“Because\ it was he, because it was I”: Friendship and its place in life’, available online.
1 Friends at work The Gallop research was published in Tom Rath’s Vital Friends:
The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without (2006).
The Aristotle references are from his Nicomachean Ethics chap- ters VIII and IX. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, by Adam Smith, is available from a number of publishers and can also be downloaded; email@example.com Prometheus Books produce a cheap edition. An academic but readable article, ‘Adam Smith on Friendship and Love’, by Douglas J. Den Uyl and Charles L. Griswold Jr., can be found in the Review of Metaphysic 49 (March 1996): 609–37.
Smith is compared with Ferguson and Hume in Lisa Hill and Peter McCarthy’s article ‘Hume, Smith and Ferguson: Friendship in Commercial Society’, in the excellent book The Challenge to Friendship in Modernity, edited by Preston King and Heather Devere and published by Frank Cass (2000). Friendship at work as an area of research has established quite a niche for itself in many business schools. Geraldine Perreault of the University of Northern Iowa, for example, has written on leadership as friendship.
2 Friends and lovers Montaigne’s essay ‘On Friendship’ where he discusses his rela- tionship with La Boëtie can be found in any collection of his Complete Essays, though Penguin’s Great Ideas series includes an attractive publication of it alone, if without introduction. John Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin’s friendship is exam- ined in wonderful detail by Frances Harris in Transformations of Love, published by Oxford University Press (2002).
Simon Callow’s Love Is Where It Falls: an Account of a Pas- sionate Friendship is a highly readable, witty and moving book published by Penguin (1999). C. S. Lewis’s essay on friendship in The Four Loves (reissued in HarperCollins Signature Classics edition, 2002) is idiosyncratic and insightful in equal measure. The quotes from Nietzsche are from The Gay Science Book 1, 14.
The classic on Greek homosexuality is Kenneth Dover’s eponymous book Greek Homosexuality (Duckworth, 1997), though James Davidson’s The Greeks and Greek Love (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2006) has revised the older view in several crucial respects.
Further Reading and References 258 firstname.lastname@example.org There are many discussions of Plato’s ideas about love; any introduction to Plato will include one. The translations of the Symposium and the Phaedrus, by Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff, are engaging with accessible introductions. Martha Nussbaum is an oft-quoted source too: The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge University Press, 1986) contains many illuminating discussions though I think many of her conclusions about Plato have been superceded by studies such as Mary P. Nichols’s Socrates on Friendship and Community (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
When it comes to Plato on friendship in particular (and his dialogue the Lysis) the ﬁrst chapter of Lorraine Smith Pangle’s Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship (Cambridge University Press, 2003) is an academic examination of the Lysis, as is Anthony Price’s rich and challenging ﬁrst chapter in Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle (Clarendon Press, 1990). For ano- ther alternative translation and commentary on the dialogue David Bolotin captures the drama as well as the philosophy – Plato’s Dialogue on Friendship (Cornell University Press, 1979).
For general philosophical comparisons of love and friendship I enjoyed Allan Bloom’s Love and Friendship (Simon & Schuster, 1993) and the chapter on love in Andre Comte-Sponville’s A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues (Vintage, 2003), though I am not sure he gets friendship quite right. Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love (Picador, 1994) is an excellent novelised portrayal of love that touches on friendship too.
3 Faking it The quotes from Nietzsche in this chapter come from three books, unless otherwise stated. A more or less complete list of his aphorisms on friendship in this middle period is: Human, All Too Human Volume I, 354, 368, 376, 378, 390, 406, 499; Volume II, 241, 242, 251, 259, 260. The Gay Science Book 1, 14, 16; Book 2, 61; Book 4, 279, 328; Book 5, 364, 366; and from the Prelude, Rhymes 14 and 25. Daybreak Book 4, 287, 313; Book 5, 489. Further Reading and References 259 email@example.com Ruth Abbey puts them into academic context in her article ‘Circles, Ladders and Stars: Nietzsche on Friendship’, in The Challenge to Friendship in Modernity , edited by Preston King and Heather Devere, published by Frank Cass (2000).
To read more of Kant’s view see ‘Of Friendship’ from Lectures on Ethics translated by Peter Heath and J. B. Schneewind, pub- lished by Cambridge University Press (1997). The article by Giorgio Agamben, entitled ‘Friendship’, is published in the online journal Contretemps, 5 (December 2004). Proust’s attitude to friendship is examined in Duncan Large’s ‘Proust on Nietzsche: the Question of Friendship’, Modern Language Review, 88/3 (July 1993): 612–24. For more on Stanley Cavell’s thoughts his Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome: the Constitution of Emersonian Per- fectionism (University of Chicago Press, 1991) is a good place to start.
4 Friending online An earlier and shorter version of this chapter was published as part of the Institute of Ideas ‘Battle of Ideas’ weekend in 2007. David Holmes is an academic at Manchester Metropolitan University interested in psychology and social change, to whom I spoke to gain these statistics. Sherry Turkle’s ideas ﬁrst appeared in The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit , published by Simon & Schuster (1984).
Susan Greenﬁeld pursues her fears in ID: The Quest for Meaning in the 21 stCentury, published by Spectre (2009).
David Smallwood made his comments to the journalist Sophie Goodchild, health editor of The Evening Standardin an article for the paper published on 22 ndOctober 2008.
Jerald Block’s research is published in The American Journal of Pyschiatry 165: 306–7, March 2008. The ﬁgures for South Korea and China come from the same article. Further Reading and References 260 firstname.lastname@example.org The research from the University of California was led by Mizuko Ito and announced at the 2008 American Anthropological Association meeting. The research about losing friends in London comes from YouGov. The reference for the research about similar trends in the US is M. McPherson, L. Smith-Lovin and M. E. Brashears (1996), ‘Social isolation in America: changes in core discussion networks over two decades’, American Sociological Review 71(3):
353–75. The more positive research, conducted by Hua Wang and Barry Wellman, is in an article entitled ‘Social Connectivity in America: Changes in Adult Friendship Network Size from 2002 to 2007’, dated 6 June 2009 and forthcoming in the American Behavioral Scientist.
5 Unconditional love Maria Boulding’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions (Hodder and Stoughton, 1997) captures the remarkably modern feel of the autobiography. Peter Brown’s classic biography of the saint is called Augustine of Hippo: a Biography (Faber and Faber, 1967). The relevant sections from Kierkegaard’s Works of Love are usefully collated in Other Selves: Philosophers on Friendship , edited by Michael Pakaluk and published by Hackett (1991). As indeed are the key paragraphs from Thomas’s Summa Theologiae. For an examination of his philosophy and theology, Brian Davies’s The Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Clarendon, 1993) is hard to beat. The Kant lecture is in Pakaluk’s book too with an introduction.
John Henry Newman’s sermon is in Parochial Sermons, Volume II, Sermon V, ‘The Feast of St John the Evangelist, Love of Relations and Friends’, published by Rivington and Parker (1843). Alasdair MacIntyre’s reﬂections come from After Virtue (University of Notre Dame Press, 1984). Further Reading and References 261 email@example.com To follow up on Iris Murdoch’s idea of the good, see The Sovereignty of Good (Routledge, 1970). Few contemporary Christian writers have sought to reconcile friendship and theology at book length which is itself notable given the ink spilt on divine love. P. Waddell’s Friendship and the Moral Life (University of Notre Dame Press, 1989) and G. Meilaender’s Friendship: a Study in Theological Ethics (University of Notre Dame Press, 1981) are two that are often cited. For a latter-day Kierkegaard, see Anders Nygren’s Agape and Eros. Friend- ship and the Ways to Truth , by David Burrell (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), weaves philosophy and faith together. Eliza- beth Stuart’s Just Good Friends (Mowbray, 1995) approaches the issue from a lesbian and gay perspective. Stanley Hauerwas has an article ‘Companions on the Way: the Necessity of Friendship’, in The Ashbury Theological Journal Vol. 45 (1990): 1. My Postscript to Jeremy Carrette’s book Religion and Culture by Michel Foucault (Routledge, 1999), ‘I Am Not What Am’, offers a view of friend- ship through theological eyes.
6 Politics of friendship David Konstan’s Friendship in the Classical World (Cambridge University Press, 1997) discusses everything you could want to know about the matter and more. G. Herman in Ritualised Friendship and the Greek City (Cam- bridge University Press, 1987) is anthropological. Paul Cart- ledge’s The Greeks: a Portrait of Self and Others (Oxford University Press, 1993) paints the broader picture. The Aristotle references are from his Nicomachean Ethics chapter VIII and his civic friendship is discussed by Richard Mulgan in his article ‘The Role of Friendship in Aristotle’s Political Theory’, in The Challenge to Friendship in Modernity, edited by Preston King and Heather Devere. David Cohen in Law, Sexuality and Society: the Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press, 1991) is fascinating on the place of the household in political friendships.
Further Reading and References 262 firstname.lastname@example.org The longest discussion of friendship in Plato’s Republic occurs in Book 1 [334b ff], though not directly in relation to the ideal city-state. In the Laws, friendship is raised in a variety of contexts, for example, at [693c], [729d], [738d–e], [743c] and [757a]. The surviving texts of Epicurus are available in a number of readers. Suzanne Stern-Gillet brings Epicurean friendship to life, given the limited sources, in an article ‘Epicurus and Friendship’\ , in the journal Dialogue, 28 (1989): 275–88. Cicero’s dialogue on friendship, Laelius, can be found in the Penguin Classics volume On the Good Life (translated by Michael Grant, 1971). Alan Bray’s The Friend is published by University of Chicago Press (2003). Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Reformation: Europe’s House Divided (Penguin, 2004) discusses changing attitudes to love, family and marriage. John Bossy’s Christianity in the West 1400–1700 (Oxford University Press, 1985) captures the essence and function of the medieval notion of charity. John Boswell’s Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (Vintage, 1995) offers an alter- native, and to my mind slightly less convincing, account of sworn friendship. Frances Bacon’s essay ‘Of Friendship’ addresses the particular issue of friendship with kings. (It can be found in any collection of his essays. Everyman publish a cheap edition.) His point is that those who are otherwise above reproach because of the power they wield need friends in order to keep their feet on the ground. Friendship, as Bacon puts it, ‘opens the under- standing’, ‘waxeth wiser’, and ‘there is no such remedy agai\ nst ﬂattery of a man’s self as the liberty of a friend’. However, this friend cum special advisor on personal integrity can only speak the truth to power because he has minimal political interests of his own. If political concerns inﬂuence the friend, his advice loses its personal edge and his intimacy becomes sycophancy; friendship matters to Bacon because it is above affairs of state. John Locke’s Essay concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government is available online for free. Further Reading and References 263 email@example.com There is an interesting discussion of Anselm on friendship in an article entitled ‘Friendship’, by David Moss, in Radical Orthodoxy, edited by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward (Routledge, 1998). Aelred’s Spiritual Friendship is available from Cistercian Pub- lications. Excerpts can be found in Other Selves: Philosophers on Friendship, edited by Michael Pakaluk. I Know My Own Heart: the Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791–1840 is published by Virago (1988). Bray discusses the relationship at length.
7 Prophetic friendship Michael Farrell’s Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work is published by University of Chicago Press (2003). My quotes come from his book. Not For Ourselves Alone, a ﬁlm of Stanton and Anthony’s life from PBS, is available on DVD from Warner Home Video. Lillian Faderman’s Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present is published by HarperCollins (1998). The quote of Simone de Beauvoir comes from The Second Sex (Vintage Classics, 1997). Marilyn Friedman’s essay ‘Feminism and Modern Friendship:
Dislocating the Community’ can be found in a mixed collection of essays, Friendship: a Philo sophical Reader, edited by Neera Kapur Badhwar (Cornell University Press, 1993).
Mary E. Hunt discusses her politics of friendship in Fierce Tenderness: a Feminist Theology of Friendship (Crossroad, 1991). My discussion of molly houses draws historical material from David Greenberg’s The Construction of Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 1988). Michael Vasey’s interpretation of their signiﬁcance is in Strangers and Friends (Hodder and Stoughton, 1995). For more on Mark Simpson see www.marksimpson. com.
Further Reading and References 264 firstname.lastname@example.org Love Undetectable: Reﬂections on Friendship, Sex and Survival, by Andrew Sullivan, is where his discussion of gay friendship can be found (Vintage, 1999). Foucault’s work on friendship can be hard to ﬁnd, e specially since it has become fashionable to attribute extreme construction- ist accounts of sexuality to him. However, the thoughtful inter- view ‘Friendship as a Way of Life’ is in Foucault Live, edited by S. Lotringer (Semiotext(e), 1989). Jeremy Carrette’s Religion and Culture by Michel Foucault (Routledge, 1999) also contains useful material. Jeffrey Weeks’s research is published in Same-Sex Intimacies:
Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments (Routledge, 2001).
Anthony Giddens’s ideas are found in The Transformation of Intimacy (Stanford University Press, 1993).
Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl’s latest research is in Hidden Solidar- ities: Friendship and Personal Communities Today from Princeton University Press (2005). Pahl’s On Friendship (Polity Press, 2000) is an accessible essay on friendship with a sociological slant. For a less empirical take, try Bowling Along , by Robert Putnam (Simon and Schuster, 2000).
8 The spirituality of friendship The quote of Richard Wollheim comes from chapter IX of The Thread of Life (Yale University Press, 1999). Montaigne’s essay ‘On Friendship’ can be found in any col- lection of his Complete Essays, and Penguin’s Great Ideas series includes an edition of it alone. Emerson’s essay ‘Friendship’ comes from his First Series and is in The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Modern Library, 2000), edited by Brooks Atkinson and with an intro- duction by Mary Oliver, whom I quote too. The Woman and the Myth: Margaret Fuller’s Life and Writings , edited by Bell Gale Chevigny (Northeastern University Press, 1994), provides much more about Fuller. Further Reading and References 265 email@example.com 9 Friendship beyond self-help John Stuart Mill’s Autobiographyis a Penguin Classic.
Paul Seabright’s book is The Company of Strangers: A Na tural History of Economic Life , published by Princeton University Press (2004). For more on the Socratic way of life though not so much on friendship, Pierre Hadot’s What Is Ancient Philosophy? (Belknap Press, 2004) is a great read.
Further Reading and References 266 firstname.lastname@example.org 267 ‘A Dumb Friend’ (Rossetti) 94 A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues (Comte-Sponville) 259 acquaintances 5, 117, 120 added value 19 Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The(Twain) 18 Aelred of Rievaulx 155, 183–5, 256 Aeschylus 159 affection 21–2, 51, 144; honesty in 236–7; public displays of 172–6, 201–2; for strangers 232 Agamben, Giorgio 87 agony aunts 1, 2, 90 Aids 212–13 alcohol 94 Alexander the Great 162–3 alienation 198 Allan, Graham 204–5 altruism 147. see also reciprocal altruism altruistic friendship 138, 141–3, 148–9, 253 American Sociological Review, The 117 amicable strangers 39, 249 Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury 155, 182–3 Anthony, Susan B. 190–4, 192 Aristogiton 156–7 Aristotle 1, 3, 9–10, 49, 60, 88, 123, 127, 155, 170–1, 233, 243; another self 86–7; civic friendship 218; deﬁnitions 4; on democracy 220; and ending friendships 101–2; and happiness 238; on love 61–3; on lovers 61–3, 64; Nicomachean Ethics 25–7, 61–3, 139–40, 149; on numbers of friends 6; and politics 154, 159–60; quality of friendship 8; and self-love 128, 138; on sex and sexual relationships 52, 61–3; and trust 224; types of friends 3–5, 21–2, 109, 184, 251–2; and virtue 34; workplace friendships 30–1 Art (Reza) 204 Art of Loving, The (Fromm) 246–8, 248 Asian traditions 10 associates 5 Athens 156–62, 162–3, 164 atomism 196–7, 199 Atticus 165 Augustine, St 122–7, 125, 127–9, 131, 136, 138, 144–5, 148, 150, 184, 185 backstabbing 24, 27 Bacon, Francis 173, 263 Baines, Thomas 181 Baker, Ross K. 21 Bar-le-Duc 44 Index Figures in bold refer to illustrations. email@example.com Index268 Bauman, Zigmunt 108–9 Bayley, John 63–4 beauty, and friendship 238 Beauvoir, Simone de 195 Bebo 104 Beckham, David 202 bedfellows 174–5 belonging 3, 7, 17, 119, 120, 138, 163, 178, 197, 212, 220, 224 beneﬁts, petty 233 Benson, George 179–81 Bentham, Jeremy 132 Berlin, Isaiah 82 Bertolucci, Bernardo 45–6 best friends 4, 17, 23, 47, 79, 81, 85, 88–90, 123 betrayal 50, 100, 126, 128, 161, 165–6, 204, 224, 227 Birth of Tragedy, The (Nietzsche) 75 Blackberrys 120 Blair, Tony 220 Block, Jerald 108 blogs 119, 120 Bloom, Allan 259 bodily intimacy, change in perception of 175, 176–7 Boëtie, Etienne La 43, 44, 46, 225, 226–8, 238 bonobos 250 books, as friends 94–6 Boone, Clayton 88–90, 91 bosses, befriending 29–33 Bossy, John 176, 263 Boswell, John 263 Botton, Alain de 259 Brando, Marlon 45–6 Bray, Alan 172–6, 175, 178–81 Bridget Jones’ Diary 47 Brown, Peter 127 Brutus 227 Bugeja, Michael 107 Bush, George W. 137, 220 Callow, Simon 43–5, 46, 66–9, 70–1 camaraderie 26, 29, 208, 209 Cambridge, Christ’s College 181 Camus, Albert 49, 113 capitalism 39–40, 41 Carr, Robert, Earl of Somerset 172–3 Carrette, Jeremy 222 Cavell, Stanley 95 Cecil, William 180 celebrities 78, 81–2 celibacy 69 challenging friendships 91–3 character 102, 227, 228, 229, 234 charisma 78 children 55–6, 81, 83–4, 104, 106, 108, 117, 163, 175, 177, 216 Children’s Society, The 117 chimpanzees 250 China 108 Christian love 129–32, 153 Christian secularism 132–4 Christianity 129, 136, 139–40, 144–6, 153, 173, 182–6, 216, 253, 262 Christianity in the West 1400–1700 (Bossy) 263 Christopher Street 206–7 Cicero 123, 155, 165–9, 183, 185, 185 circle-like individuals 78 citizenship 2, 158, 163, 169 City of God, The (Augustine) 126–7 civic affection 10, 160, 162, 164 civic connectedness 160 civic friendship 2, 218–21 firstname.lastname@example.org Index 269 civic space 2 civil partnerships 217–18, 220 Clanvowe, Sir John 179 Clare, St 48 classical friendship: Ancient Greek 156–62, 162–4, 254–6; the Roman Empire 168–71; the Roman republic 164–9 Cleisthenes 157 client friendship 164–5 climate change 244–5 close friends, decline in numbers of 117 cohabitation 217 Collaborative Circles (Farrell) 191 Collateral (ﬁlm) 203 commercial culture 33–6, 37–9, 41–2 commitment 2, 12, 64, 106, 118, 138, 167, 179, 181, 182, 185, 189, 195, 212, 213, 216, 218, 250 common experience 26, 226 communitarianism 197–8 compassion 34, 94, 114, 153, 252 Comte-Sponville, Andre 259 Condon, Bill 88 Confessions (Augustine) 122–7, 150 Confucius 10 connectedness 86–7, 147–8, 160, 175–6, 251 Conrad, Joseph 94 consent 54 Constantinople 179 consumer culture 108–9 contemporary society, change in 153–4 conversation 22, 50, 52, 82, 90, 91, 95, 96, 97, 106, 160, 200, 232 Coontz, Stephanie 46–7 cooperation, in commercial society 35, 38, 39 Copernicus, Nicolaus 111–12 Coppola, Soﬁa 69–70 cosmic friendship 114–15 cost-beneﬁt analysis 34, 41–2, 248–52 Coupland, David 41 courage 234–5, 239–40 courtship 57, 63–4 creativity, as source of friendship 66 critiquing friends 83–4 Crito 92–3 Croft, Herbert, Bishop of Hereford 179–81 cronyism 150 Cruise, Tom 203 Crusoe, Robinson 193 Darwin, Charles 249 De Waal, Frans 250 death 8, 123–7, 185 deﬁnitions of friendship: ambiguity of 7; Aristotle 4 democracy 137, 159, 219–21 Democracy in America (Tocqueville) 147 Democritus 158 Deptford, London 43–4 Derrida, Jacques 6 Descartes, René 132 Descent of Man, The (Darwin) 249 destiny 226 Dickinson, Emily 115–17, 116, 194–5, 230 differences between individuals, role in friendship 88–90 disappointment 232 discernment 25, 91, 150, 241 discipline 57–9, 69 email@example.com Discourse of Friendship(Taylor) 181 dissimulation 11–12, 82–3, 84, 152–3, 204, 234, 235, 253 distance, friendship over 115–17. see alsoonline friending divine, the 229 divine friendship 235, 236, 237 divine love 148 dress 28 drinking 94, 95, 160–1 duty 134, 136 eating, communal 173–4 egalitarianism 137, 150 ego, the 58 egoistic friendship 138, 141–3, 145, 148–9, 253 email 104–5, 119 emancipation 191 Emerson, Ralph Waldo 88, 113, 228–9, 229–32, 232–4, 234–41, 240, 254, 256 empathy 13, 34 ending friendship 99–103 engagement 229 English Civil War 180 enmity 39, 51, 76, 91 enthusiasm 65 environmentalism 244–5 Epicureanism 163 Epicurus 155, 162–3 equality 142, 153, 199 erotic desire 55, 57, 62 erotic love 45, 49–51, 53, 55, 61, 65, 130, 144, 152, 154 Essay concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government (Locke) 177–8 Essays in Love (Botton) 259 Eucharist 173 Evelyn, John 43, 44, 46, 174, 176 Evelyn, Mary 176 evil 114–15 evolution 113–15, 249–50 exceptionality 227–8, 229 exploitation 23, 49–50, 197 Facebook 12, 104 Faderman, Lillian 194–6 faith, loss of 123–7 fame 142–3 family 2, 5, 137, 175–8, 215, 216, 254 Farrell, Michael 191, 194 fasting 244 faults 93 faux-friendliness 80 favouritism 137 favours 31 fear, politics of 221 feigned friendship 80–5 feminine desire 54 feminism 13, 194, 194–8 Ferguson, Adam 39 Fever Pitch (Hornby) 204 Finch, John 181 ﬂabby friends 2, 79 foes 91 formalised friendships 176 Forster, E. M. 50, 169 Foucault, Michel 206–11, 208, 213–14, 214, 265 Fragility of Goodness, The (Nussbaum) 259 Francis, St 48 Frank, Anne 94 frankness 90–1 fraternities 176 freedom, political 158 Freud, Sigmund 48, 58 Friedman, Marilyn 198 Friend, The (Bray) 172–6 Index 270 firstname.lastname@example.org Index 271 Friend and Foe in the U.S. Senate (Baker) 21 friendliness 5; in politics 21; in the workplace 22–4, 32–3 ‘Friendly Society’ (Pahl) 219 friends: decline in numbers of 117–18; differentiating from lovers 43–5; making 90–1; need for 8–9; networks of 108–9; range of 5–6; substitutes for 94–6 Friends (TV programme) 47, 203 ‘Friendship as a Way of Life’ (Foucault) 207 Friendship in the Classical World (Konstan) 262 friendship-in-God 126–7, 128–9, 145, 148 Fromm, Erich 246–8 Fuller, Margaret 230–2, 234, 235 fun 80 Funeral Oration (Perikles) 86 future-orientated friendship 77–80 garden friendship 162–4 gay liberation 206–11 gay marriage 13, 209 gay men 200–2, 203, 205–6 gay relationships 211–14 gender roles 13 generosity 142, 250 Gervais, Ricky 15 ghettoised friendship 213–14 Giddens, Anthony 214–15, 216 Gilbert, Sue 194–5 God 131, 150, 182, 235; love of 124, 126, 128, 145 Godolphin, Margaret 43, 44, 46, 174, 176 Gods and Monsters (ﬁlm) 88–90 Golden Rule, the 133 Goldhill, Simon 219–20 good friend, the 152, 213 goodwill 4, 22, 30, 31, 166–7, 252 Google grief 8 gossip 4, 19, 22, 26, 82, 106, 233 graves, shared 178–81, 185–7, 188–9 Greenﬁeld, Susan 105–7 grief 169, 231 gymnasium, the Ancient Greek 56–7 Hadot, Pierre 266 happiness 12–13, 35, 36, 93, 133, 134, 164, 192–3, 238, 241, 245, 255 Harmodius 156–7 hate mail 119 Hawthorne Effect, the 28 health, and friendship 19, 68, 98, 222 Hegel, Georg 132 heliocentrism 111–12, 112 Hereford Cathedral 179–81 Hesse, Hermann 90, 113 Higginson, Thomas Wentworth 115–17, 116 High Fidelity (Hornby) 204 Hipparchus 156–7 Hippias 156–7 Hobbes, Thomas 132 Holmes, David 105 homophobia 48–9, 174, 177, 202–3 homosexuality 53, 54–5, 174, 195–6, 203; the Church and 208–9; fear of 48–9; Foucault on 206–11; and friendship 200–2, 205–6; friendship ethic 211–14; the military and 207–8; email@example.com homosexuality – continuedproblem of 207–8; relationships 211–14; subversiveness 209 honesty 8, 90–1, 92–3, 93–6, 97, 99, 233, 235, 236–7, 253 honorary friends 39, 249 Hope, A. D. 63 Hornby, Nick 204 housemates 135 human assets 40 human rights 137, 160 humdrum, the 64 Hume, David 132 humility 90–1 Hunt, Mary E. 199–200 hypocrisy 233 Ibn Rushd (Averroes) 139 id, the 58 immortality 55–6 impartial spectator, the 35 inconsistency 30 individualism 2, 39, 196–7, 222 industrial economy 33 indwelling 142 infatuation 50–1 institutional kinship 21 Internet, the 12, 253. see also online friending; abuse of relationships 104–5; activity 109; addiction 107–8; beneﬁts 109–11; claims for 119–20; comment swarming 119; and the decline in social connectivity 118; effect on psychology 105–7; freedom 112–13; grieﬁng 119; life online 111–15; message boards 110 Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age(Bugeja) 107 intimacy 1, 13, 117, 121; physical 64–5; pseudo 15–16, 28; same-sex 211–14 Iris (Bayley) 63–4 isolation 118, 193–4, 198 Ito, Mizuko 261 James I, King 172–3 jealousy 50, 130, 176 Jesus Christ 129, 183 John, Jeffrey 208–9 Jumpers (Stoppard) 242 justice 160, 164, 191, 198 Kant, Immanuel 84, 91, 132–4, 134–5, 136, 138, 147, 149 Kierkegaard, Søren 129–32, 137, 144–5 kindness 142, 232 King, Richard 222 Kirsch, Michele 8 kissing 173, 182, 202 knowing and being known 225–6 Konstan, David 262 labour markets 41 ladder-type individuals 77–8, 102–3 Last Tango in Paris (ﬁlm) 45–6, 62 Laud, William 174 Laws (Plato) 163–4 Lesbia Brandon (Swinburne) 195 lesbianism 195–6 letter writing 105, 115–17, 116 Lewis, C. S. 48, 59 life online 111–15 lifestyles 2 Index 272 firstname.lastname@example.org likeability 19 Liquid Fear(Bauman) 108–9 Lister, Anne 181–2, 186, 188–9 Liszt, Cosima 74 Lives (Plutrarch) 226 Lloyd George, David 190 Locke, John 177–8, 201–2 London 117, 244; coffee houses 200–2 loneliness 113, 198, 240 longevity 78–9 loss, of friendship 87 Lost in Translation (ﬁlm) 69–70 Lott, Tim 5–6 love 4, 45, 145–6, 171. see also erotic love; Aristotle on 61–3; comparison with friendship 49–53; falling in 246–8; and friendship 63–4; Fromm’s analysis 246–8; Platonic 53–9, 59–61, 64–5; quality 144; romantic 71; standing in 247–8; Thomas Aquinas and 140–1; transformation into friendship 58–9, 59–61, 61–5; undying 183; unrequited 50–1 Love, Sex and Tragedy (Goldhill) 219–20 Love and Friendship (Bloom) 259 Love Is Where It Falls: An Account of a Passionate Friendship (Callow) 43–4 love triangles 70–2 lovers 5, 49–50, 252–3; Aristotle on 61–3; differentiating from friends 43–5; friendship 58–9, 59–61, 61–5; longings 52; as murderers 51; threat of friends to 70–2 loving deceptions 11 loyalty 38, 158–9, 166–7 Lysis (Plato) 9, 91–3, 127 MacCulloch, Diarmaid 263 machismo 203 MacIntyre, Alasdair 136, 197 male friendship 202–6 male intimacy 204–5 Manicheism 122–7 manners 95 Mark Anthony 165–6 market society 39 marketplace, the 222–3 marriage 1–2, 138, 171, 214; changing attitude to 46–7; founded on friendship 217; gay 13, 209; laws 178; vows 71 Marriage: A History (Coontz) 47 Marriage Precepts (Plutarch) 171 marriages of friendship 12, 172, 178–82 martyrdom 129 Marx, Karl 39–40, 132 Mary, Queen of Scots 43 masculinity 201, 202–6 Mason, Angela 210 Meier, Christian 158 Memoirs of Socrates 158 men 13; public displays of affection 172–5 Menander 241 Menexenus 9 mere friendship 232–4, 241 Metaphysics of Morals (Kant) 132–4 metrosexuals 203–4 Miami Vice (TV programme) 203 Microserfs (Coupland) 41 Microsoft 41 Middle Ages, the 12, 155, 171–8, 186, 218–19 Index 273 email@example.com Miers, Harriet 137 Mill, John Stuart 47, 48, 132,245–6 Mirabeau, Comte de 175 mobility 2. see alsoInternet, the modernity 111–12 money 18, 29, 30, 32, 40, 50, 56, 65, 102, 236 Montaigne, Michel de 6, 43, 44, 46, 86, 155, 224–9, 225, 233, 238, 254, 256 moral behaviour 51, 132–4, 136–7 moral individuals 34 moral worth 134 Moss, David 264 murder 51 Murdoch, Iris 148, 243, 262 mutual beneﬁt 4, 17, 21, 23–4, 101, 213, 243 MySpace 107 myths 155 National American Woman Suffrage Association 193 natural selection 249–50 nature 167–8, 233 Nehamas, Alexander 142, 238 neighbour-love 130–1, 137, 144–5, 149 nepotism 137, 150 Neville, Sir William 179 New England Transcendentalism 229–32, 234 Newman, Thomas Henry 145–6 Nichols, Mary P. 259 Nicomachean Ethics (Aristotle) 25–7, 61–3, 139, 140, 149 Nietzsche, Elizabeth 73–4 Nietzsche, Friedrich 6, 7–8, 9, 59–60, 65, 90, 101, 155, 232, 233, 237; on ending friendship 100–1, 102–3; and feigned friendship 81, 82–5; and foes 91; friendships with Wagner 73–7, 87, 99, 102–3; and future-orientated friendship 77–80; and solitude 96–9; on suffering 93–4 non-instrumental time 109–10 noosphere, the 114 nostalgia 8 Nussbaum, Martha 259 obligations 134, 136 Ofﬁce, The (TV programme) 15–17 oligarchy 159 Oliver, Mary 230 ‘On friendship’ (Montaigne) 43, 44 ‘On Grief for Lost Friends’ (Seneca) 169 ‘On Philosophy and Friendship’ (Seneca) 170 On Willing Slavery (Boëtie) 226–7 online bullying 104 online friending 12, 104–21, 153; acquaintances 120; addiction 107–9; beneﬁts 109–11; bullying 104; chat 106; conclusions 118–21; cosmic friendship 114–15; and the decline in social connectivity 117–18; loneliness 113; physical meetings 115; as reﬂection of real friendships 113; rejection 105; Index 274 firstname.lastname@example.org semantics 107; social networking sites 104, 105–7; utility friendships 21 open-endedness 7 Orestes 159 original sin 184 other-love 127 Pahl, Ray 2, 120, 215–16, 216, 219 pain 93, 232 partners 5 passion 11, 44–5, 50, 59, 61, 64–5, 67, 129–30, 246–7 passionate friendships 11, 43–5, 52–3, 65–70 Pausanias 156 pen friends 115–17, 116 Perreault, Geraldine 258 personal communities 215–16 Phaedrus (Plato) 57–9 Phenomenon of Man, The (Teilhard de Chardin) 113–15 Philodemus of Gadara 162–4 philosophers of friendship, historical clusters 155–6 philosophy 9–10, 13–14, 55, 56, 242, 254, 256 Philosophy of Money, The (Simmel) 40 physical intimacy in friendship 64–5 Plato 9, 10, 52, 53–9, 60, 64–5, 65, 69, 86, 91, 92, 127, 128, 155, 161, 163–4, 188, 252, 254, 255 Platonic friendship 59–61 Platonic love 53–9, 64–5 platonic relationships 45 pleasure 4, 140, 184, 251 Plutarch 171, 226 political activism 198–9 political friends 20–1, 165–71, 220 politicians 2 politics 21, 154, 159–60, 162–4 polyphilia 6 praiseworthiness 35, 37–8, 40 prejudice 100, 120 pride 130 Proust, Marcel 95–6 pseudo-intimacy 15–16, 28 psyche, the 58 public embraces 172–6 public institutions of friendship 172–6 public life, Athenian 158–62 pure relationships 214–15, 216 Purpose Driven Life, The (Warren) 244 Pylades 159 quality time 109 Ramadan 244 Ramsay, Peggy 43–5, 46, 66–9, 70–1 rational economic man 196–7 Reagan, Ronald 163 rebellion, personal 189–94, 196 reciprocal altruism 248–52 reciprocity 133–4, 199 Rée, Paul 73 Referee, The 190 Reformation: Europe’s House Divided (MacCulloch) 263 Reid, Guy 66 relationships: changes from public to private 173–8; of choice 1; modern 214–16, 216; of obligation 1–2; personal 6; right 198–200; workplace 18–19, 30–1 religious piety 172, 182–7 Renaissance Italy 166 Index 275 email@example.com Republic(Plato) 163 respect 76, 77, 89, 95, 96, 134, 179, 189, 213, 223, 224, 231, 233, 236 responsibility 31, 94, 213 Rethinking Friendship: Hidden Solidarities Today (Spencer and Pahl) 215–16 Reza, Yasmina 204 right relationships 198–200 rights 2, 137, 150, 160, 162, 206, 217, 253 Robinson, Gene 208 Rochefoucauld, François de la 175 Roman Empire, the 168–71 Roman republic, the 164–9 romantic love 63, 71, 85, 127, 184, 185, 194, 210, 214, 215, 223, 226, 231, 252 Rossetti, Christina 94 Rousseau, Jean Jacques 132 rumour 27 Ruskin, John 94 Russell, Bertrand 29 Sade, Marquis de 53 St Bartholomew’s Day massacre 226 same-sex intimacies 211–14 same-sex relationships 44, 48–9, 53–5, 206–11, 217–18 Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (Boswell) 263 Save the Children 117 Schmitt, Carl 221 Schneider, Maria 45–6 Schopenhauer, Arthur 74–5 Seabright, Paul 39, 249 Second Life 12, 104, 119 Second Philippic (Cicero) 165–6 Secret History of Clubs (Ward) 201 secular ethics 132–4, 134–9, 146, 150 self: centrality of 242–8; friend as another 85–93, 223, 243; tethered 106 self-abnegation 128 self-help 242; cost-beneﬁt analysis 248–52; self-centred 242–8 Self-Help (Smiles) 243 self-help books 14, 27, 242–4 self-interest 132–4, 242–8 selﬁsh particularity 146–9 selﬁshness 128, 133, 136, 143–4, 147, 153 self-love 126, 127, 128, 129, 132–4, 138, 140, 143–4, 147 self-renunciation 125, 128, 129, 131 self-worth 224 Selling Spirituality: the Silent Takeover of Religion (Carrette and King) 222 Seneca 155, 169–70 sex and sexual relationships 11, 45–9, 152, 184; Aristotle on 61–3; comparison with friendship 49–53; consummation 66; discipline 57–9, 69; discomfort 45, 46; ﬁckleness of 62; and friendship 45–9; the ideal 71; immediacy 50; lesbianism 195–6; love triangles 70–2; Platonic love 53–9, 59–61, 64–5; restraint 69; sworn friendships 186–7; the tribe years 47; undercurrents 65, 66 Sex and the City (TV programme) 47, 204 Index 276 firstname.lastname@example.org sexual attraction 45–6, 60, 61,66 sexual desire 50, 52, 57–8 sexual friendship 46, 52, 64 sexual orientation 67 sexual pleasure 62 sexuality 57, 65, 234; Plato on 53–9 Shakespeare, William 80, 81, 100, 157–8 sharing 133–4, 184, 213 Simmel, Georg 40 Simpson, Mark 203 sincerity 233, 235 Smallwood, David 107–8, 260 Smiles, Samuel 243 Smith, Adam 33–6, 36, 37–9, 152, 249 Smith, Jacqui 217–18 social connectivity, decline in 117–18 social conservatism 221 social goods 159 social networking sites 104–7 social norms 7 social relationships, changes from public to private 173–8 social standing, different 168, 170–1 Societies for the Reformation of Manners 201 society 177–8 sociologists 1–2, 2 Socrates 9, 53, 57–8, 91–3, 127, 158, 254–6 Socrates on Friendship and Community (Nichols) 259 Socratic friendship 254–6 solipsistic lives 244–8 solitude 96–9 soul friends 4, 5, 222–4, 224–9, 230–2, 235, 237–8, 240, 241, 254 soulmates 222, 223 South Korea 108 Spencer, Liz 215–16, 216 Spinoza, Benedict de 132 Spiritual Friendship (Aelred of Rievaulx) 183–5 spirituality 13, 222–4, 230–2, 235–41, 256 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady 190–4, 192 star friendship 102–3 Stephenson, Robert Louis 46–7 Stevens, Samuel 201 Stoppard, Tom 242 strangers 232, 246 stress 2 substitutes for friends 94–6 subversion 13, 209, 216 suffering 93–4 suffragettes 189–94 suffusion 215 Sullivan, Andrew 205, 265 Summa Theologiae (Thomas Aquinas) 140 superego, the 58 support networks 198, 213 Surpassing the Love of Men (Faderman) 194–6 suspicion 38, 232, 250–1, 253 Swinburne, Algernon 195 sworn brotherhoods 178–82, 185–7, 188–9, 218 sycophancy 23 sympathy 34, 38, 250 Symposium (Plato) 54–6, 161, 164 symposium, the 160–2 Taxila, Pakistan 10 Taylor, Harriet 47, 245–6 Taylor, James 23–4 Taylor, Jeremy 181 Index 277 email@example.com Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre 113–15 testing friendship 8 tethered self 106 Thelma and Louise (ﬁlm) 188–9 Theory of Moral Sentiments, The(Smith) 34–6 third party friends 71 Thomas Aquinas, St 138–9, 139–46, 141, 146–9, 150, 155, 172, 184, 197, 253 Thucydides 156 Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Nietzsche) 96–9 time 58, 109–10 timing 227 Tocqueville, Alexis de 147 toleration 84 Top Gun (ﬁlm) 203 Trainspotting (ﬁlm) 27 transience 26 tribe years 47 trust 50, 88–9, 149–51, 213, 216–21, 224 truth 88, 97, 99 Turkle, Sherry 105–6, 260 TV soaps 1, 2 Twain, Mark 18 Twitter 104 tyranny 159 unconditional utility 23–4 unconditionality 137–8 understanding: shared 65; sympathy of 63–4 unhappiness 30 universal law 133, 135 Untimely Meditations (Nietzsche) 75 urban lifestyles 117 utility friendships 4, 17, 18–21, 21–5, 28, 39–42, 136, 140, 152, 184, 251 Vasey, Michael 201 Versace, Donatella 81–2 Vidal, Gore 81 virtual friends and friendship.
seeonline friending virtual links 107 virtues 34, 149 vocational education 41 Wagner, Richard 73–7, 99, 102–3 Walker, Ann 181–2, 186, 188–9 Wang, Hua 118 Ward, Edward 201 Warren, Rick 244 Warren, Tony 205 Watters, Ethan 47 Waugh, Evelyn 66 Weeks, Jeffrey 211–14 Weldon, Sir Anthony 172–6 welfare 251 wellbeing 34–5 Wellman, Barry 118 Whale, James 88–90, 91 What Is Ancient Philosophy? (Hadot) 266 White, Patrick 74 White City Blue (Lott) 5–6 White Heat (Wineapple) 115 Wilde, Oscar 24, 55 Will, the 74–5 Will and Grace (TV programme) 47 William of Moerbeke 139 Williams, George 249 Wineapple, Brenda 115 Winter’s Tale, The (Shakespeare) 100 wisdom 56–7, 167, 255–6 Wollheim, Richard 223 women 13; emancipation 194–8, 199; Index 278 firstname.lastname@example.org male friendship with 171; right relationships 198–200; romantic friendships 194–6; suffrage movement 189–94; sworn friendships 181–2, 186–7, 188–9; in the workplace 41 women’s movement 13 work/life balance 32 workplace, the 7, 10–11, 15–42, 152, 184, 251; accidents 17; befriending the boss 29–33; building friendship in 24–5, 25–7, 29; colleagues out of context 19–20; commercial culture 33–6, 37–9, 41–2; effect of friendship in 17–18; employee satisfaction 26; environment 17; friendliness 22–4, 32–3; goodwill 21–2, 30; management structures 40; praise 37–8; problems 27–8; productivity 17, 28; pseudo-intimacy 15–16; realpolitik 37–9; relationships 18–19, 30–1; rewards 31–2; utility friendships 17, 18–21, 21–5, 28, 39–42; women in 41 Works of Love (Kierkegaard) 129–32 Xenophon 158 Xerxes 157 Yehia, Aziz 67, 68, 70–1 Zeta-Jones, Catherine 81–2 Index 279 email@example.com