The Challenge of Friendship in Modernity*



I begin from the assumption that one age is relevantly distinguished from another, not by the passage of time ('decade', 'century', 'millennium'), but by some determinate alteration in circumstance which, given recorded language, will commonly consist in, or be marked by, the rise or fall of some dominant philosophical paradigm or ideology. Passage from 'decade' to 'decade' or from 'century' to 'century' need not of itself bring substantive change, as in techniques (perhaps fishing or hunting) or ritual practice or ideological outlook. But it is at those points where we do abut upon altered practice or outlook, that we enter into relevant, substantive change of the sort that demarcates 'age' from 'age'. History in this sense is, indeed, to do with difference. Were there no significant and determinate change of circumstance, most especially in outlook and ideology and technology, then what we call 'history' would always amount to an account of the present - but a 'present' co-extensive with Eternity.

Where we must not be deluded is in supposing that history is only do with change. For history works in two ways. First, it accounts for change, if always against the backdrop of duration. Second, it recounts duration, but here (inversely) against a backdrop of change. If one history may stress what has altered from that era to this, so may another history detail what has persisted from this period to that. Either sort of account - of variation, or of constancy - may entertain and may even matter. In the first case (mutation), nothing will have changed if something else has not stayed still. And in the second case (fixity), nothing will have stood still save by contrast with other things that have moved. Whether we are to do with identity or difference must be decided by the evidence. It will not necessarily and unarguably be true that 'liberty' in Ancient Athens was entirely different to, nor that it will be altogether at odds with, that which we now espouse. If you suppose that every chronological unit is 'Unique', then it must be difficult to envisage any continuity between fifth century Athens and twentieth century Washington. If you suppose the content of different chronological units to be identical, then it must be difficult to imagine discontinuity, otherness. Let us accept that history operates in the present. It will not follow that it attends only to the present (though we may and do have histories of the present). For history may (even more commonly) attend to the past, whether that particular past (it is always a particular past) is portrayed as different or enduring.

So we may say that to differentiate era from era is obviously and necessarily to attend to difference. Yet it is to attend to difference against a backdrop of duration. What differentiates era from era is not mere chronological succession, but substantive change of circumstance, and most importantly, for our present concern, changed patterns of thought. Formally, one may distinguish era from era merely chronologically, as where we speak of the second century by contrast to the third, or the sixth by contrast to the seventh, or the ninth by contrast to the tenth, etc. These time markers have a limited utility qua markers, just as any abstract number system will do. Otherwise, in themselves, they signal nothing substantive. We may well attribute some potent magicality to the year '2000' as distinct from '1999' or `2001'. But the fact that in the twenty-fourth hour we are located in 1999 and in the next hour transit to 2000 can be expected to have not the slightest impact on whether atrocities persist, tornadoes twist, roosters crow, elections loom, markets boom, or crash. (King 2000b: chs. 1/2.)

To distinguish era from era is not quite the same as differentiating past from present. We distinguish one era from another necessarily with a view to underscoring a difference. Without substantive difference, we should have one era, not substantively distinct eras. But we may distinguish past from present precisely in order to underscore a continuity; for the substantive rituals, techniques, behaviours, beliefs, paradigms of the chronological past may be identical with those of the chronological present - whether we find these substantive continuities banal or significant. We must get used to the idea of histories legitimately constituting accounts of a past whose substantive content may be either different or persistent. Whether some given stretch of the past, in some determinate respect, happens to be distinct, must remain a matter for investigation. Thus we shall not assume that the past is always or necessarily different. Equally, we shall not construe any and every assimilation of past to present as indiscriminately anachronistic.

By 'anachronism', we are casually disposed to mean 'reading history backwards'. It is a valid enough meaning, and yet not quite right. 'Not quite right' because there is no way in which we can avoid, strictly speaking, 'reading history backwards' - meaning 'back to front', which is to say from present to past. We cannot avoid constructing the past (a) within the present, nor (b) from present data, nor (c) from a (literally) present perspective. So let me put the point more finely, thus: The error of anachronism consists in assuming that some claim, p or q, that we do or think now, was or must also have been done or thought at some previous time, t2 or t2, when, as it happens, it was not.

It would appear to follow that to view history as a repository of unique, non-recurrent and non-persistent events is also to assume that any substantive identity which the historian forges between past and present is anachronistic. Those who are disposed to see the past as 'another country' - as necessarily distinct, Unique, particular - cannot be well-placed to infer that, for example, Ancient Greece could possibly have accommodated anything like our present image or practice of 'liberty'. One may hypothesise that the Greek image of liberty, on the evidence, is prima facie significantly different from the image we entertain. One may account it an error to read back into Ancient Greece, especially the Greece of 2500 years ago - let alone Rome - the contemporary paradigm of liberty, putting quite to one side the various difficulties located in our present paradigm. Acton (1986: 68) put the point briskly enough: 'The ancient politicians aimed no higher than to diffuse power among a numerous class. Their liberty was bound up with slavery.' Indeed, the Ancients were more concerned with the fraternal management by citizens of a sovereign power from which a majority of residents were presumptively excluded; and they will sometimes have called this 'liberty' (eleutheria in Greek, libertas in Latin).

Today we are more concerned with governmental defence of every individual's private space to do just what he or she wills, consistent with a like respect for the 'liberty' of others. If I charge that the assimilation of Greek liberty to present liberty is anachronistic, then at least this cannot or should riot be put down to the assumption that any Substantive identity or continuity between past and present is impermissible - as must be the case with those who render anachronism overly encompassing and indiscriminate (to which historicists, particularists and methodological contextualists are unduly prone).

The Libertarian Paradigm

The dominant moral and political paradigm of our own age is Constituted by a widespread aspiration to Liberty, grounded in Power. Liberty is the head, Power is the foot, of this aspiration. Our enthusiasm for such private liberty is open and sunlit; we fondle power by stealth and moonlight. The two are so joined that one cannot easily make out the hidden fibres that connect them. If citizens and subjects, following an analyst like Hobbes, contract to submit to government from fear of one another, then it is free choice, paradoxically, which generates power. Or, if one's freedom is absence of oppression, one way to secure this freedom, again paradoxically, is by oneself appropriating the instruments of oppression. Or, if negative liberty ('freedom from') is morally superior to positive liberty ('freedom to'), it remains, contrariwise, that the ultimate 'cash value' of removing a constraint consists precisely in being 'free to' do what the constraint Would prohibit. There are many different ways in which we may express the same idea. But to fall back upon the simplest of illustrations: Proper defence of your free speech, at the one extreme, or of your 'consensual sex among adults', at the other, requires, at the limit, a police power to restrain those who would obstruct it. Hence we stand openly on the principle of liberty, while liberty stands on the plinth of power - this last shaded, and often shady.

The logical difficulty with the ideal of liberty is that it so readily converts into the ideal of power. What is power if not the dominance by A over B where B cannot resist? And what is liberty if not the repudiation of such dominance? Where we celebrate liberty, we (ostensibly)wish to deplore the power that stifles it. Yet we conceive few or no effective means to defend liberty, save by deploying power. We commonly think, like Lord Acton (1988: 519), that 'power tends to corrupt' and that 'Great men are almost always bad men'. We think power evil, a threat, and obstacle to liberty. But, like Morgenthau and Madison and indeed Montesquieu, we also think that power must be fought with power. We think to balance force against force, body against body, coalition against coalition, on the assumption that these will annul one another or give rise to something other than either. This may be taken to mean, `anarchistically', that power can and ought to be destroyed. It may be taken to mean, more 'realistically', that the, separation and balancing of powers plausibly sum to liberty. The liberty paradigm (reading this off as the avoidance of oppression) is rocked on its plinth by the reflections (a) that liberty is not secure without power and (b) that power always extinguishes someone's liberty.

One may suppose there to be some way round and beyond the 'paradox' of liberty. I assume that there is, and, if so, that it probably begins with recognising that the call for non-oppression is an appeal to a species of justice which is larger than non-restraint and thus larger than, and sometimes contradictory to, 'liberty' itself. Hence the repeated and possibly accelerating interest in insinuating some 'cleat blue water' between the concern with 'liberty', on the one hand, and the larger, often countervailing, concern with 'justice', on the other. (Rawls 1971; Jackson 1986; Barry 1989; King 2000a: ch.7.) Liberty may well appear somewhat too primitive a moral paradigm to be allowed to stand alone - in so far as it stands at all. Obviously, a very great deal of important work has and continues to accumulate around it, whether recently formulated as 'liberty' (Berlin 1969; Hayek 1960), `freedom' (e.g. Berm 1988; Cranston 1953; Raz 1986), 'autonomy' (Young 1986; Lindlay 1986), 'liberalism' (Rawls 1993; Kymlicka 1989), or otherwise. Equally, the libertarian paradigm stumbles over anomalies, paradoxes, inadequacies... relating to power, choice, voting, democracy, trust and so forth. It has a powerful intuitive appeal for us all, or at least for most of us, and the problem has become that of relocating it so that extremist absurdity does not trump sensibilities more cosmopolitan and just.

How disappointing therefore that my immediate concern here, en passant and uncontroversially, is to do no more than insist that liberty, fractured as it may be, is the dominant paradigm under which we labour. How long we have done so is another matter. Certainly, the emergence of modern liberty is often broadly associated with social contract theory - somewhat too comprehensively, since we may have a 'contract' of submission, as in Thomas Hobbes. Putting further argument to one side, I am tempted to trace this notion back to about the dawn of the eighteenth century - focusing in particular upon figures like Milton, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire especially, and the philosopher more generally. It is tempting to think to rush beyond this beachhead with a view to probing more important, analytical, liberty-related strong-points. If that is the sort of direction in which we should move, this, clearly, is not the occasion for such movement.

Classical Liberty as Anachronism

Many are commonly disposed to assume, in embracing the libertarian ideal, that the ancient Greeks and Romans, with whom we readily identify, were equally wedded to a negative ideal of non-oppression and statal neutrality. Even where we deny this claim to classical Rome (Finlay 1973; Dunn 1992), we risk falling over ourselves in retrojecting upon Athens, and the reforms associated with Cleisthenes in 508 BC, a libertarian aura. Popper (1962: 1, 102), perhaps the most famous and acute of these gladiators, locates 'the basis of our western civilisation' in an individualism and altruism whose germ he espies in Ancient Athens, which is to say in the account by Thucydides (Peloponnesean War: II, 37-41) of Pericles' Funeral Oration.

Popper in effect supplies a construct of uncritical, closed 'tribes' being replaced by rational, civilised states, Athens exemplifying the latter. Hence, following Popper (I, 183), 'the open society [meaning a 'free society'] was already in existence' in fifth-century Athens. Surrounding and earlier peoples are conceived as 'closed', 'tribal', collectivist, totalitarian. He views the conquering state, built upon commerce and debate, as making a breakthrough into this species of enclosure, opening a window onto a freer, more cosmopolitan world. Indeed, for Popper (I, 184), 'the universalistic imperialism of the Athenian democracy and the instruments and symbols of its power' were all in the service of 'a new faith in reason, freedom and the brotherhood of all men'. Popper (I, 181) supposes there to be a clear distinction between 'tribal life' and 'civilisation', and concludes that the way to break down the former and introduce the latter is by force: 'tribalist exclusiveness and self-sufficiency could be superseded only by some form of imperialism'. Accordingly, Athens at least, not only for Popper (see Patterson 1991), is reckoned to entertain an ideal of freedom despite both slavery and imperialism, not to speak of the `Illiberal' urges of many of her most prominent intellectuals - Plato not least among them.

I signal Popper's views only because they illustrate a much larger tendency - to see smaller, 'tribal' peoples as somehow morally inferior, little capable of restraint, or rational debate, given only to despotism or licentiousness. In as far as it is especially hunter-gatherers with whom we are to do, the conclusion (for Popper) must be that what they require is a touch of the mailed fist, however much restrained that fist may be by reflective rationality. The locus classicus of this sort of view is really Hobbes (1651), who quite repudiates any such notion as that of a 'golden age'. Hobbes insists upon statelessness as a condition of chaos, and upon sovereignty - a form of rationally contracted subjection - as the only point of access to what we celebrate as civilisation. Popper in esse is saying little more than Hobbes, in this regard, except that he entertains a more elaborate construct of the nature of 'nature'. The characteristic that Popper (I, 172-173) claims to be 'found in most, if not all, of these tribal societies [is an] irrational attitude towards the customs of social life, and the corresponding rigidity of these customs.' Popper (1, 101) also takes it that 'the breakdown of tribalism' is a precondition for 'the rise of democracy'. Indeed, Popper's entire contrast between 'the open' and 'the closed' society is one between 'the magical or tribal or collectivist society... and the society in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions'. This rather distorted view of earlier, smaller, more self-sufficient societies as 'undemocratic', static, closed, rigid, unequal and anti-individualistic is, of course, rejected by many who know them, such as Richard Lee (1979) on the !Kung and Colin Turnbull (1961) on the Mbuti.

We have immense difficulties with conceiving even fifth-century Athens - putting Rome and certainly Sparta altogether to one side - as a 'free society'. Of course there are continuities: we encounter a certain rationality in public discourse; a belief that public policy is best tested by bringing many minds rids to bear upon it; that argument can bring both delight and benefit; that sovereignty should be vested in a public assembly; that there should be popular juries; that membership of public bodies should rotate, in part by election. None the less, we are not to do - not even in the case of Athens - with a society that supposes careers should be open to talent, that social mobility is somehow desirable, that humans are somehow equal, that all persons qua persons have rights, that presumptive social exclusion is wrong. The dominant element in all major Greek and Roman cities consisted only of citizens, only of males, and was numerically small. The subordinate element was fragmented, and we variably call them helots (Sparta), freedmen, dependent labour, peasants, tenants, debt-bondsmen, clients (coloni), poor (penes), plebs, metics, periokoi, slaves (douloi, demosioi, servi) of divers kinds and qualities, not to speak of women. Any society which excludes the bulk of its de facto membership from respect, regard, recognition, not to speak of office, cannot be called 'free' in the sense that we today intend. No society - valuing its existence, regarding this as legitimately grounded in slavery - can meaningfully view itself as aspiring to freedom in any standard contemporary sense of the term.

One was a citizen of Athens if one's father was a citizen, and later, under Pericles, if both parents were citizens. The firm principle, marked by rare exceptions, was citizenship through birth. The Athenian constitution designated a minority (of those residing) as sovereign. Wealth went largely, if not exclusively, with birth. Aristotle (Athenian Constitution, 2, 11) wrote of the poor, and of their wives and children, as being enslaved to the rich, the children being subject to seizure where parental rents went unpaid. No social system is entirely coherent, but it seemed to be assumed that citizens would have slaves, and that citizens would not themselves be slaves. Of course some did become slaves, as through indebtedness, even if the practice was to remove or sell such natives abroad. Slaves could be owned publicly or privately, they could be skilled and gifted or unskilled and dim. But their presence was pervasive, as was the acceptance of this presence.

Resident aliens were numerous and welcome as traders, taxpayers, even soldiers - but not as citizens. Citizens, in such an age, commonly worked. But they were not expected to work for others. It was demeaning, even if Socrates (following Xenophon) was disposed to argue against such inept hauteur. If Athenian slavery, and the general structure of exclusion, was complex, it seems reasonable to infer that slaves and other persons of subordinate and excluded status were abundant. Thucydides (VII, 27, v) refers to 20,000 skilled slaves deserting the Athenians in the war with Sparta. Even where we can secure no reliable grip on numbers, it is clear from Aristotle's account (Politics 1253b) that every 'complete household' would contain slaves, just as it would wives and children. It will be recalled that Aristotle assumes the slave to be such 'by nature' - an animate instrument that IS subject to the will of a master. Here then we have an image of an intimate entity (polls) governed by a restricted class of citizens, who collectively (the 'statesman' is not for Aristotle a 'tyrant') fashion policy, but who easily exclude from mutual recognition and rights of participation the overwhelming mass of the population.

On the whole, in the Ancient world, including fifth century Athens, the bulk of the people were a subject, dependent, excluded population. The claims attributed by Thucydides (11, 37, 1) to Pericles, regarding access by the poor to power, would, if true, be markedly exceptional, more expressive of uncommon aspiration than of daily reality. To borrow one account: 'Not many Greek states of the classical period, and none at all in the ancient world at any other period, allowed poor men of obscure condition to play a positive constructive role in political life, and even in Athens it is almost impossible to find a man of modest means, let alone a really poor man, in a position of leadership.' (Finlay 1985: 37) To borrow another account: 'The figures show - and not just in the oligarchies, but also in the economically advanced democracies, that the sovereignty of the citizens was that of a minority - a minority moreover tending to shrink further....' (Ehrenburg 1982: 76) Power and standing belonged only to citizens, and these were few. If we accept for, example, for Rome (8 BC.) an Augustan census enumerating 4.2m. citizens out of 50m. residents, then we can allow the citizenry to constitute at best approximately 8.4 per cent of the total population (Finlay 1985: 47).

The body of Athenian citizens might be described as a democracy, in the sense of 'rule by majority', or even as 'mob rule', except that they are clearly not quite to do with either. How does the use of such an expression as 'democracy' (demos-ocracy) arise in the context of the Athenian constitution? Some part of its Currency must surely be put down to the oppositional irony of Athens' detractors. What the Athenian system really instantiates is minority rule, even if that rule was more 'direct' than 'representative'. The Athenian citizenry were a decidedly engaged, 'hands-on' minority, but they were a distinct minority all the same. They were much given to argument and counter-argument as a part of the process of rule, but there was no assumption that just anyone might enjoy a prima facie right to participate. They had little if any concept of 'Individual rights'. They had little respect for the liberty of laisser faire, or laisser alley, or of just doing what one likes. They were disposed to view citizens who absented themselves from civic duty - in the Ecclesia, or Council of Five Hundred, or popular juries - as more contemptible than splendidly eccentric. And even Socrates, following Plato (Apology), despite considered objections to these institutions, preferred to die than seek escape from their judgements.

As Garlan (1988: 20) observes, douleia in Plato significantly denotes 'not only slavery in the strict sense, ...but equally political Subjection' - expanding into moral servitude and subjection generally. But this inclusive use of slavery to encompass subjection generally may mislead. Athens was of course a slaveholding society. But this is not to say that the condition of all non-citizens within it must be viewed as abjectly dolorous. Let us then accept, on the one hand, that the slave (doulos, servus) conventionally stands in opposition to the free (eleutheros). Let us accept, on the other hand, that tills opposition may be unduly sharp in view of the many possible gradations of servile status - or (more neutrally) of 'dependency'. A free man in Athens or Rome, for example, was not necessarily either powerful or independent. A man might be free, but only in the sense of having been freed; free, but not a citizen (polites); free, qua citizen, but poor; free, but without weight, or power. Like freedom, slavery too came in wildly different degrees. So we are right to be careful about any blanket opposition of doulos or serous to eleutheros. This does not mean that the opposition is simply unwarranted. It only means that the opposition between citizen and non-citizen, which has its own limitations, remains far more revealing.

Our concern becomes not, 'To whom do we oppose the slave?', but rather, 'To whom do we oppose the citizen?' This brings us much closer to locating domination in Athens, since it is not only over the slave. In Athens or Rome, the citizen excluded the non-citizen. The chattel slave may have been the most oppressed of the excluded. But many more besides were caught in the non-citizen net. The contrast between citizen and non-citizen is that between those with and those without direct access to power. To celebrate citizenship, membership, duty, belonging, 'freedom', participation, responsibility was also to celebrate this narrowly filtered access to power. If 'freedom' is an autonomous ideal in the ancient world, it is not the 'freedom from' of Berlin (1969). If it is ever aptly freedom at all, then it is - in the technically 'positive' sense - a 'freedom to'. It is capacity, a power.

The Athenian praise of participation, of engagement, is appealing. But it has another side: exclusion. Did Athens praise liberty? Yes, in so far as being free means not being subject. Did Athens condemn subjection? If we follow Aristotle's account, then not in the least. Slavery was everywhere, but few ancients worried about it even to the point of discussing it. So what was Athenian liberty? It was rational public discourse among a pre-selected and presumptively designated few: that is, of free-born, male citizens. This, however, is more the celebration of a particular expression of power, than a generalised, Kantian promotion of liberty. In Athens, liberty and power were joined at the hip. The liberty was discursive, located in wide-ranging debate, such as we do not find under a conventional despotism. But the power of decision, mediated through debate, was restricted to a limited class circumscribed by birth. And we must suppose exclusion (for those affected) to have been as emphatic as under any conventional despotism. In the end, the distinct minority of power-holders in Athens, however wide-ranging their debate, directly represented, and were answerable to none but, themselves.

The working Greek or Roman ideal was less our contemporary independence or freedom or rights. It was more to do with enjoying capacity, exercising power, being sovereign. An array of adjectives is plausible in relation to Classical Athens: small, autonomous, intimate, can informal, lively, intelligent and so on. We ca detect through these a link with the 'free society' or indeed the 'open society', in Popper's title. Yet we must distinguish. A dominant estate or class may itself enjoy liberty (non-oppression) without ever viewing such de facto liberty as an abstract ideal that either can or should be extended further or indeed universalised. A small band of citizens may participate discursively and dominate corporately without ever aspiring to incorporate all or most (of those who are subject to them) into either discourse or domination. Hence the paradox, more apparent than real, that any expansion of the Athenian or Roman citizen-body would equally require an expansion of dependent labour, not least slave labour, within it. As Finlay (1968: 72) once put it: "one aspect of Greek history... is the advance, hand in hand, of liberty and slavery." It would be extremely difficult to locate any generalised appeal to liberty, as moderns conceive it, in this.

If, with Finlay (1985: 45-48), we view the Athenian citizenry as a dominant 'order' or 'estate', one marked by various juridically defined privileges and obligations, where membership is hereditary, by fact or by law, where non-citizens are excluded from ownership of land and from political rights, however long their residence, whatever their numbers or contribution or wealth, and if we add to all of this the automatic subjection of women as such to male authority, then we are clearly to do with a narrowly circumscribed form of minority rule. The relevant liberty that might be celebrated here is that of insertion, that which facilitates a 'power to', even a 'power over'. What is in play here is the principle of attachment, of belonging. This principle commends proximity to the palace, membership of the assembly or court. And this belonging may be assorted with the fraternity peculiar to those who exercise discursive domination.

In the end, it seems implausible to suppose that the Greeks or Romans entertained an ideal which really resembles the modern notion of liberty. The differences are far starker than the continuities. For Aristotle (Rhetoric 1367a 32), the free man is merely one who is not dominated or constrained by another. But who thereby qualifies as `free'? Not the slave, helot, wife, or child; not the labourer who works for another; not the craftsman who seeks a commission; not the retailer who depends upon the goodwill of customers; not the butcher, baker or candlestick maker; in short, not the vast majority of people. A 'free man' on this account is essentially one who has power - a 'power to' do things, and a 'power over' others to secure that things are done. This is not to say that the ancient writers directly praise power. (Plato's Socratic refutation of Thrasymachus in The Republic is a repudiation of 'might makes right'. Aristotle in The Rhetoric comments at length on nobility, which is partly to do with the proper use, not mere possession, of power.) But it is to say that their support of participation as a duty owed by a restrictive class is implicitly an endorsement of domination by the class of citizens. In the end, to impose upon Athens the ideal of liberty is overwhelmingly anachronistic.

The Salience of Friendship and its Decline

The first question with which we are left is whether there is a political or social ideal in the ancient canon which approximates to universality. Certainly neither liberty nor power serves as a generalisable ideal, Cutting across all classes and periods in the ancient world. I cannot here argue the question out, but I hypothesise that that notion which most nearly fits the bill is friendship. Plato attributed to Socrates the statement, 'I have a passion for friends'. Aristotle claimed to value friendship more highly than justice, on the assumption that, with the first, there is no need for the second. Friendship was central to the ethics of Socrates. His students, Xenophon and Plato, supply firsthand accounts of it. Aristotle, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch and innumerable others wrote of and for friendship. Those who wrote in Latin were atypical. Virtually all philosophical writing, even of the Roman period, is in Greek -as in the case of the reflections of Epictetus (via Arrian) and of the meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. And most of the thinkers of this Greco-Roman period, whether they wrote in Greek or (more rarely) in Latin, were committed to this ideal . It is a defensible thesis that no major book on friendship has appeared since Cicero, 2000 years ago, and certainly not since Plutarch's Dialogue on Love (the Amatorius).

If we inspect the modern period, the disposition we most commonly encounter with regard to friendship, is one of indifference to hostility. I do not say that the prejudices and conclusions of major thinkers is necessarily embodied in the social practices of ordinary people. But I do say, if we concentrate upon major thinkers, that we immediately detect in the modern figures a sharp divergence from their ancient predecessors, at least in the attention they devote or deny to friendship. Virtually no modern figure - Bacon, Montaigne and Nietzsche (bizarrely) apart - has anything to say about or in praise of the subject. Not Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Berkeley, Hume, Voltaire - not even Rousseau; not Bentham or the Mills; neither Hegel nor Marx. The earlier notion of the person always as some species of 'communion' (Schmalenbach 1939) with another or others, as achieving moral value only through valuing some other as one's own highest end, somehow dissolves into a later notion of the person as a self-subsistent individual in pursuit of self-interested ends, maximising personal utilities, often enough standing beyond and above communal values. Apart from indifference, friendship often meets with simple hostility - as in the work of Immanuel Kant, Sigmund Freud, Mary Douglas, Ayn Rand, and others.

Friendship is in fact a lead that has almost gone cold. The ancient analyses alone betray immense sophistication. Yet they are not much attended to. This volume seeks to contribute modestly to the task of re-inspection of friendship as a major philosophical category. The essayists mostly inspect work on friendship in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But the first essay, by Mulgan, explores the clarity and applicability of Aristotle's commitment to friendship as a political virtue. The second, by Hill and McCarthy, explores the contrasting views of David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson on the capacity of modern commercial society to engender or to destroy friendship. The third, by Abbey, inspects Nietzsche's puzzling appreciation of friendship, which he approved in his youth and then seemed to cast aside in his later thinking. The fourth essay, by Rustin, retrieves the work of Martin Buber as one of the most significant of modern attempts to develop a philosophy of relatedness in which some form of friendship features in a major way. The fifth essay, by Dallmayr, critically reviews recent work by Jacques Derrida on friendship, noting that this writer's method of reviving the concept may secure an unhappy, contrary effect. The sixth essay, by Hutter, argues for the practice of friendship as a universal phenomenon, but one cut to the cloth of wildly varying historical conditions. Devere Supplies an authoritative bibliographical essay on friendship, with particular reference to work on Greece and Rome.

*The text is an introduction to 'The Challenge of Friendship in Modernity', edited by Preston King and Heather Devere. London: Cass, 2000.


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