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The Meaning of Friendship [Paperback]

Mark Vernon
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

22 April 2010

A tremendous burden is being placed on friends. Individuals want friends more than family. Couples want to marry a friend - a very novel idea. And at the social level, politicians, sociologists, even bishops realise that in the anonymity of the networked age, friendship is increasingly important to care, commitment and belonging.

Friendship, we believe or hope, is elastic enough to connect us across the web of complex lives, and strong enough not to snap. But is it? For whilst many are turning to friendship, few are asking what they are turning to.

In this new, accessible philosophy of friendship, Mark Vernon examines the love called friendship upon which so much happiness depends. He links the resources of the philosophical tradition with numerous illustrations from modern culture to ask about friendship and sex, work, politics and spirituality. Unusually, he argues that Plato and Nietzsche, as much as Aristotle and Aelred, should be put centre stage. Their penetrating and occasionally tough insights are invaluable if friendship is to be a full, not merely sentimental, way of life for today.

In this new version of his book previously published as The Philosophy of Friendship, Mark Vernon also tackles friendship and the internet exploring the rise of social networking sites and asking how notions of friendship may or may not be changing, for good or ill, because of the internet. He also adds a chapter on the psychology of friendship, looking at notions of friendship that arise from evolutionary psychology.

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The Meaning of Friendship + Love (ATM) + Wellbeing (Art of Living)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (22 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023024288X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230242883
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


' intelligent discussion of the difficult concept of friendship' - Metapsychology

'A history of the idea of friendship through the works of various thinkers from Plato to Nietzsche. It's genuinely useful, lucid, informative and wise.' - The Independent, Books of the Year 2005

'A wonderfully thoughtful and timely reflection on the importance of friendship in helping us become honest, courageous and wise.' - Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian

'A very readable mix of self-help and technical philosophy, this inquiry explores the potentially detrimental effects of dissimulation, sexuality and the workplace on friendship, as well as looking more generally at the political and ethical issues. Ultimately, Vernon argues that in its purest form friendship is a way of life. Indeed, like Socrates, he believes philosophy and friendship have much in common: they are both founded upon the love that seeks to know'. - PD Smith, The Guardian

"In a secular, consuming society nothing is more urgently needed than a cogent, passionate justification of those values we hold most dear in spite of everything. Mark Vernon passionately justifies friendship as a value lying at the very heart of what we are. This is a book that will make you feel better about being human." - Bryan Appleyard
"Mark Vernon's book will change the way you think about the people you see every day - at work, in your street, in the pub, at home. He helps us to appreciate and to nourish many different kinds of friendship." - Sophie Howorth, The School of Life

Book Description

A brilliantly lucid and insightful guide to all forms of friendship, drawing on philosophy and popular culture to ask the important questions about what friendship is all about

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A friend indeed 4 May 2010
Mark Vernon applies his considerable scholarly credentials to a universal theme, and the result is a clear and amiable account of the meaning of friendship. His source material tends to lie with the ancient Greeks and with Christian theology, though this doesn't prevent him from referring to Michel Foucault, for example, in an examination of the links between friendship and homosexuality, or to Copernicus in a discussion of Friends Reunited.

Readers looking for a self-help book on friendship should look elsewhere as there is little practical emphasis on emotional life or psychology. But those looking for a semi-academic volume that focuses on the history and the idea of friendship will not be disappointed.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating 23 April 2010
This book makes fascinating reading. It opened my eyes to the ways in which our modern view of friendship has been shaped by understandings of friendship in the past, and I particularly enjoyed his discussion of the internet -- how cyber-friendship has initiated new concepts of friendship, and may alter our ability to make lasting friends. We are all aware that friendship is important, and we all want to have friends but few of us take the time to explore what friendship is about. This impassioned plea for friendship examines the uncertainties, limits and ambiguities of friendship, and brings us a dynamic view of its perils and promise. A book not to miss.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay to a point. 27 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book kicks off interestingly, questioning types of friendships - especially the superficial friendship in the work place. It then gets entrenched in what renowned philosophers have said on the subject and therefore essentially rehashes what many have said before.
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4.0 out of 5 stars philosophy of friendship 26 Feb 2013
In Mark Vernon's The Meaning of Friendship there are many ideas that any reflective person may have thought of themselves in their spare time, albeit with a few perhaps not. What gives the book weight though is fleshing these ideas out with reference given to many great thinkers including Socrates,Plato, Aristotle, Nietszche and Foucault to name some of them. He tackles the subject with chapters including the politics of friendship, friends and love, the spirituality of friendship and friendship and work. To me the book seemed a little too repetitive in its arguments, but all in all nonetheless a good and interesting read.
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