Review Of "Friendship: The Future Of An Ancient Gift" By C. Baracchi, Translated By E. Bartolini And C. Fullarton

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How can one understand friendship in an era when someone can have a thousand "friends" on FaceBook? Baracchi (Università di Milano, Bicocca, Italy) concentrates on how ancient Greeks—mainly but not solely Plato and Aristotle—understood the nature and limits of friendship. Her understanding of Greek thought is impressive. Her linking of friendship and justice in the polis is inventive. Baracchi’s style is postmodern, and the vices and virtues of that style are on display in this book: “The human being is ... grasped in its structural openness, in the infinite and indefinite task of turning toward the good” (p. 41) is genuinely thought-provoking, though one might balk at what it means for a human task to be ‘infinite." On the other hand, from the fact that Socrates addresses “men of the jury” but imagines a possible afterlife in which he can discuss philosophical issues with men and women, Barrachi concludes that Socrates recognizes that patriarchal conventions are limiting, a claim that outruns the evidence for it. Barrachi does nicely dismantle the still-read Nazi political thinker Carl Schmitt, who thought that politics and friendship are necessarily at odds. Those with a fairly good understanding of Plato and Aristotle will find this book a welcome addition to the literature. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.


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