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Friendship

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 02 March 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of friendship. In Greek and Roman times, friendship was thought of as being an essential constituent of both a good society and a good life; a good society because it lay at the heart of participative civic democracy; a good life because it nurtured wisdom and happiness. It is this period which gives us the texts on friendship which, to this day, are arguably the most important of their kind. Amongst their authors is Aristotle, who engaged in one of the great philosophical discussions on the subject. For Aristotle, friendship could fall into three categories: it could be based on utility, pleasure or goodness. In its latter state, Aristotle described it as being 'a single soul dwelling in two bodies'.

So how did the Ancients establish the parameters of the true nature of friendship in the literature and philosophy that followed? How have different forms of friendship helped or hindered creativity and intellectual pursuit? What has been the apparent relationship between friendship and power? And what of the darker aspects of friendship - jealousy, envy and exploitation?

With Angie Hobbs, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Warwick; Mark Vernon, Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at Syracuse University and London Metropolitan University; John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London.

  • Further Reading

    Mark Vernon, The Philosophy of Friendship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

    Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (Penguin Classics, 2004)

    Plato, Meno and Other Dialogues: Charmides, Laches, Lysis, Meno (Oxford World Classics, 2005)

    Marcus Tullius Cicero, On the Good Life (Penguin, 2001)

    Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Oxford World Classics, 1998)

    Alan Bray, The Friend (University of Chicago Press, 2003)

    Francis Bacon, 'Of Friendship' in The Essays or Counsels Civil and Moral (Oxford, 1999)

    Michel De Montaigne, 'Of Friendship' in The Complete Essays , trans. by M. A. Screech (Penguin, 1993)

    William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Arden Shakespeare, 2001)

Credits

Presenter
Melvyn BRAGG
Producer
Natasha MAW

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Featured in...

  • Philosophy archive

    From Altruism to Wittgenstein, philosophers, theories and key themes.

  • Culture archive

    Popular culture, poetry, music and visual arts and the roles they play in our society.

  • Friendship

    A collection of programmes and clips about friendship.

  • Ancient Greece

    Browse the Ancient Greece era within the In Our Time archive.

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