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Friendship (Vices and Virtues) Hardcover – October 22, 2013

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Friendship (Vices and Virtues) + Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age
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Product Details

  • Series: Vices and Virtues
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300175353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300175356
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'An intelligent, loving tribute to the virtues, values and varieties of friendship.'—Iain Finlayson, The Times
(Iain Finlayson The Times 2013-09-21)

“‘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
(Micah Mattix 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
(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
(Simon May)

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
(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
(Sarah Bakewell)

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

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

From the Author

A conversation with Anthony Grayling

Q:  How important is friendship in the twenty-first century?

A:  Friendship has always been central to human existence, and although it is no longer a matter of leaguing together to bring down a woolly mammoth, it remains an indispensable psychological and social platform for good lives. In some ways the new media of communication and social networking has overextended the notion of “friendship” to a shallow simulacrum to that relationship, but they also make it possible for people to be together in new ways, and to nourish the bonds in which friendship consists.

Q:  Can friendship ever be bad for us?

A:  It is all too possible to have toxic friends; it too often happens that people can do unwise or bad things in the name of friendship; having the wrong people as friends can be destructive; so yes—friendship can be bad for us. But it is far more often good for us, because we could not even begin to flourish fully unless we had friends.

Q:  Can only humans be friends?

A:  There is empirical evidence of connections very like friendships among chimpanzees; many people regard their pets, especially dogs, as friends—though here “companion” is a more accurate term. In general it would seem that the focal case of friendship is the conscious, chosen, self-aware human relationship that implies a rich network of factors about trust, obligation, pleasure, and mutual concern.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on September 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`If I have to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country' so said E M Forster. What is it about friendship that places loyalty to friends above patriotism? That is the subject of inquiry in A C Grayling's latest book. He traces the contemplations about friendship from the time of Socrates, through the medieval period, the Renaissance, and the modern era. Plato laid the groundwork and, building from his teacher, Socrates, held that mutual utility is the foundation of friendship. Aristotle agreed with Plato regarding many of the attributes of a good friend. However, he differed crucially with Plato that friendship is founded on mutual utility. Aristotle believed that friendship is a value to be desired in itself, and that it is a necessary constituent of the good life.

Grayling examines the different kinds of friendship. He considered the friendship between men, and that between women; he considered the friendship between the old and the young; and friendships with and without a sexual content. In all of these, he gathers the ostensible features that one might associate with a good friendship. He explores the circumstances that enable friendship to bloom. Quoting Plutarch, he writes, `The soul suitable for many friendships must be impressionable, and versatile, pliant, and changeable. But friendship requires a steady, constant and unchangeable character, a person that is uniform in his intimacy.'

Throughout the length of his inquiry, Grayling finds a case for the quality that makes one a friend. It is the very specialness of friendship that implies that a friend is special. However, to be special means that we must be set the `special' apart from others - 'A friend to all is a friend to none'. This raises a serious question - can we truly have friends if we are to love one another equally?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MarkOD on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A thorough treatment of the historical perspectives in this area, but relatively brief on the contemporary situation and the day to day issues that we all have to deal with - a great opportunity lost to provide a more complete treatment of this fascinating subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Avery on April 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book never achieves what it sets out to do; it never gets to the heart of friendship. And as such, I would not recommend this book to anyone who has not already spent a great deal of time contemplating and reading about Friendship elsewhere. This book is only really useful in its ability to refer the reader to other writers who have addressed Friendship.

On an a more personal note, I was bothered by Grayling's discussion on Christianity and Friendship. His analysis struck me as philosophically uncharitable. But perhaps this was to be expected from someone described as the "Fifth Horseman of New Atheism."
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kirk S. Thomas on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's surprising just how deep this book actually is. There's more to friendship than meets the eye, and Prof. Grayling manages to make the subject clear in an easy-to-read manner.
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