This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2016-2017
POLS 13181-6: What is Friendship?
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Instructor: Ruth AbbeyThe question in this course’s title — What is Friendship? - sounds like a no-brainer. Friendship is such a common and ordinary part of human experience: how can anyone be in any doubt about what it is? Yet some of the great minds in the western philosophical tradition have thought long and hard about friendship — its distinctive nature; its real meaning. For that reason, we examine the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Michel de Montaigne, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Friedrich Nietzsche, among others, on friendship. Along with critically examining what such thinkers say about friendship, we will ask whether we have anything to learn from them about our own lives and relationships. Participants in this course will raise and try to answer a number of questions about friendship, such as: Can I be friends with family members? Does the nature of friendship differ by gender? Is friendship an appropriate and viable model for marriage? Can friendship provide a model for political relations? We will also consider the representation of friendship in popular culture. And we will, of course, reflect on the meaning of friendship in the age of social networking sites such as Facebook.