Conclusion: Philosophy and Friendship

  • Mark Vernon


This book has been, I hope, a little bit of self-help, a little more technical philosophy, and mostly a search through the philosophical tradition and other cultural resources, to illuminate the perils and promise of friendship. I have had Tom Stoppard’s comments in mind, when, reflecting on the philosophical romp that is his play Jumpers in a radio interview, he said:

The area of moral philosophy [is] an open house for the layman, the non-philosopher, the curious human being because most of the questions which preoccupy professional philosophers are only an elevated more technical version of the kind of question which any sentient human being asks himself or herself while burning the toast.

When it comes to friendship, the questions are particularly close to most people’s experience. Thus, first, I argued that friendship must engage with the utility-obsessed side of our culture, since, for all the good things it brings, the danger is that the law of productivity and consumption holds sway and friendship cannot rise above being instrumental; it risks being always determined by external workplace and workplace-like demands. If, though, individuals come to like one another for who they are, and not just for what they do, a better friendship becomes possible.


Moral Philosophy Open House Professional Philosopher Friendship Candidate Egoistic Motive 
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Further Reading and References

  1. For more on the Socratic way of life though not so much on friendship, Pierre Hadot’s What Is Ancient Philosophy? (Belknap Press, 2004) is a great read.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark Vernon 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Vernon

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