Further information on Fall 2019 courses


Pat Johnson: Friendship and a Life Well-lived


Expanded description

Participants will also be asked to prepare reflections on the questions set out for each week. The course will encourage discussion.


Course text

The primary text is Other Selves: Philosophers on Friendship edited by Michael Pakaluk (cost: $18). There will be additional readings made available electronically or in paper form.


Schedule of classes (subject to modification)

Week 1:  Friendship and philosophical practice. How do we become friends?  Reading Plato’s Lysis

Week 2:  Friendship and a virtuous life.  How should we define friendship?  What role does friendship play in structuring how we live together?  We will read Aristotle.

Week 3:  Friendship, virtue, and human nature:  Are we inclined to friendship by nature?  We will read Cicero.

Week 4: Friendship and religious or spiritual life.  Does friendship improve or detract from a spiritual life?  Is Christian love a form of friendship?  We will explore the thoughts of Aelred, Aquinas, and Kierkegaard.

Week 5:  Friendship and moral self-understanding.  Does friendship help us become better people or is friendship a moral risk?  Does friendship open us to grief and betrayal?  We will dialogue with Kant, C. S. Lewis, and Montaigne.

Week 6: Friendship and family bonds.  Can married couples be friends?  Can parents and children be friends?  What impact does authority and hierarchical social structures have on the possibilities of friendship?  We will explore ideas from Wollstonecraft, Mill, and Taylor.

Week 7:  Friendship and an ethics of care.  Some contemporary philosophers have argued that the highest moral good is the caring relationship.  Is friendship the best example of such a relationship?  What are the political implications of this ethic?  What does it mean to have civic friendships?  We will read Schwarzenbach.

Week 8:  Friendship, conversation, and the art of living well together.  Can reflections on friendship and how we structure conversations with friends help us develop more productive means of discourse in our personal and civic relationships,  and so find ways to live well together?  We will explore some ideas from Gadamer.