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Friendship A. C. Grayling

Vices and Virtues
Publication date:
15 Sep 2013
Yale University Press
248 pages: 216 x 140mm

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A central bond, a cherished value, a unique relationship, a profound human need, a type of love. What is the nature of friendship, and what is its significance in our lives? How has friendship changed since the ancient Greeks began to analyze it, and how has modern technology altered its very definition? In this fascinating exploration of friendship through the ages, one of the most thought-provoking philosophers of our time tracks historical ideas of friendship, gathers a diversity of friendship stories from the annals of myth and literature, and provides unexpected insights into our friends, ourselves, and the role of friendships in an ethical life.
A. C. Grayling roves the rich traditions of friendship in literature, culture, art, and philosophy, bringing into his discussion familiar pairs as well as unfamiliar—Achilles and Patroclus, David and Jonathan, Coleridge and Wordsworth, Huck Finn and Jim. Grayling lays out major philosophical interpretations of friendship, then offers his own take, drawing on personal experiences and an acute awareness of vast cultural shifts that have occurred. With penetrating insight he addresses internet-based friendship, contemporary mixed gender friendships, how friendships may supersede family relationships, one’s duty within friendship, the idea of friendship to humanity, and many other topics of universal interest.


Read an extract from Friendship on the YaleBooks blog

A. C. Grayling is founder and master, New College of the Humanities, London. A multitalented and prolific author, he has written over thirty books on philosophy and other subjects while regularly contributing to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Literary Review, and other publications. He lives in London.

'An intelligent, loving tribute to the virtues, values and varieties of friendship.'—Iain Finlayson, The Times

“‘Friend’ is a much devalued word today. . . .In Friendship the noted British scholar A.C. Grayling tries to restore some of the term's richness.” —Micah Mattix, The Wall Street Journal

“A philosophical inquiry into friendship with a historical perspective . . . [offers] some fresh ways of looking at and thinking about a very familiar topic.”—Kirkus Reviews

"A masterly investigation into one of the supreme, though often neglected, virtues of the well-lived life. A.C. Grayling dazzlingly illuminates the richness of friendship as it has been conceived and practised in the Western world since antiquity."—Simon May, author of Love: A History

Praise for A. C. Grayling:

"If there is any such person in Britain today as The Thinking Man, it is A. C. Grayling. He provides generous help for the ethically challenged, the philosophically perplexed, and the culturally confused."—The Times

'A superb, enlightening tour - and a friendly one – through friendship's literary and philosophical landscape.' - Sarah Bakewell, author of
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

“Precise and rigorous.”–Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today website

“Elegant . . . Grayling has taken a subject that is hiding in plain sight and given it the loving attention it deserves.”—Joe Queenan, Barron’s

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