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IS-DAAD-Forskerutveksl. Norge-Tyskland

Friendship: concept, normative theory and practice

Tildelt: kr 95 082

Friendship is part of our daily experience and, since antiquity, also an ideal of an accomplished life. While it remains constitutive of genuinely human life, its normative conception has changed. Not only its commonalities or differences with emotions such as love or brotherhood, but also the expectations towards friends and towards oneself as a friend have undergone a radical change. On this presumption, the project has four goals. 1. Conceptual clarification: The concept of friendship supplies the elements that belong to any form of friendship, while conceptions of friendship (an ideal of friendship or mere norms) determine that which may or should belong to a friendship. We will analyse friendship as a complex emotion, thereby providing answers to the questions: Which feelings does it include? What is its formal or concrete object? What kind of value judgement does it contain? To what does it motivate? 2. Comparison of the contemporary idea of friendship with the ancient and classical ideal: While the Christian and the romantic conceptions retain the assumption of the friend as another self (communion of the will and of the judgements between friends), they emphasize the self-opening of the heart, authenticity, intimacy and the feeling of being understood. 3. Analysis of the increasing differentiation of friendship: Friendships are now equated with acquaintances and differentiated according to various spheres of life and the various functions that friendship can have, which leads to a strong correlation between friendship and age, gender, profession. The search for intimacy and security replaces the search for perfection, but the communication of weaknesses then entails the risk of betrayal and loss. 4. Investigation of the rise of alternative ideals of friendship: e.g. the conception according to which the individual is disconcerted by itself, as well as by the friend, which makes friendship at the same time interesting and a challenge for individuation.


IS-DAAD-Forskerutveksl. Norge-Tyskland