'Friendship may seem to be both too familiar yet too elusive and ambiguous a topic to consider on its own out of the context of novels or biographies. However, Mark Vernon convincingly refutes this notion and reconsiders the contributions of philosophers from Aristotle and Plato to Nietzsche and Emerson. The result is a wise and accessible discussion of the perils and promise of friendship, providing a beacon of hope to encourage us through the many confusions in our personal lives and suggesting its wider political and spiritual implications. This is definitely philosophy for next Monday morning and it deserves to reach a wide general readership.' - Ray Pahl, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Kent at Canterbury, and author of On Friendship
'Friendship is a subject which has been much neglected by recent philosophy. Mark Vernon's engaging and accessible yet thorough book rediscovers the rich contributions philosophers of the past have made to the subject and shows how these discussions are more relevant today than ever. It is also of much more than theoretical interest, as it illuminates in surprising ways a facet of life important to everyone. Everyone will learn something of value by reading this book, whether their primary interest lies with friendship or philosophy. The Philosophy of Friendship revivifies and sets the agenda for its eponymous subject.' - Julian Baggini, Editor of The Philosopher's Magazine and author of What's it all about? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life
'Mark Vernon is the best kind of friend of friendship, who is well aware of how its variations and transmutations elude any individual or ideological appropriation. His treatment is wide-ranging and open-ended, exemplary both in lucidity of exposition and in range of sympathy. He is at once celebratory and common-sensical, appreciative of friendship's aspirings and perceptive of its fallings short, respectful of its indebtedness to ethical tradition, and hopeful of its fecundity in social innovation. Readers will place themselves variably within the spectrum of possibilities that he displays, but with an enhanced sense of the alternatives that one's own choices leave open to others.' - Anthony Price, Birkbeck College, London'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
From the Inside Flap
What is friendship? What is its nature, its rules, its perils, its promise? Can colleagues be friends, can online strangers, can lovers?
These are the questions that journalist Mark Vernon takes to thinkers from Plato to Nietzsche, via Augustine and Aquinas, in a search through philosophy for the things that thwart friendship and for the conditions within which it might best thrive. He unpacks their penetrating and often unexpected insights with numerous illustrations from history and culture to ask about friendship in sex and work, society and ethics, politics and spirituality.
Aristotle asked who would choose to live without friends, though they had every other good thing? He also observed that though the desire for friends comes quickly, friendship does not. Philosophy of Friends is the first book length philosophical examination of friendship for many years. Written with wit, clarity and passion, it will engage anyone interested in friendship, general readers and academics alike.