Friendship and Love, Ethics and Politics

Friendship and Love, Ethics and Politics: Studies in Mediaeval and Early Modern History

Eva Österberg
Volume: 3
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 237
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  • Book Info
    Friendship and Love, Ethics and Politics
    Book Description:

    Today, friendship, love and sexuality are mostly viewed as private, personal and informal relations. In the mediaeval and early modern period, just like in ancient times, this was different. The classical philosophy of friendship (Aristotle) included both friendship and love in the concept of philia. It was also linked to an argument about the virtues needed to become an excellent member of the city state. Thus, close relations were not only thought to be a matter of pleasant gatherings in privacy, but just as much a matter of ethics and politics. What, then, happened to the classical ideas of close relations when they were transmitted to philosophers, clerical and monastic thinkers, state officials or other people in the medieval and early modern period? To what extent did friendship transcend the distinctions between private and public that then existed? How were close relations shaped in practice? Did dialogues with close friends help to contribute to the process of subject-formation in the Renaissance and Enlightenment? To what degree did institutions of power or individual thinkers find it necessary to caution against friendship or love and sexuality?

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-79-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Preface
    (pp. 1-4)
    Eva Österberg
  4. Chapter 1 Friendship, Love, and Sexuality in Premodern Times Themes and problems
    (pp. 5-22)

    As Michel Foucault said, we academics ought always to ask ourselves why something suddenly becomes a scholarly issue. Why do we begin to mull over something that until then had appeared natural and selfevident? Why when faced with a given situation does it suddenly seem appropriate to find new words and categories to reflect more deeply on a phenomenon we previously only ever noticed in passing? “Why does this happen?” asks Foucault. What intellectual, political, or social forces impel such a problematization?¹

    This was more than relevant when historians began to reflect on friendship, love, and sexuality as serious scholarly...

  5. Chapter 2 Challenging the Private–Public Dichotomy Friendship in mediaeval and early modern society
    (pp. 23-90)

    Acknowledgement of the historical relevance of the private–public dichotomy is often associated with Jürgen Habermas’s influential theory, focusing as it does on the bourgeois public sphere in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In his view, this public sphere was characterized by open communication, rational argument, and reason. He also views it as something new, in stark contrast to the representative public sphere of premodern society, in which hierarchical power presented itself to the people in what was to all intents and purposes one-way communication.¹ In recent decades, however, Habermas’s ideas have been challenged, not least by historians studying popular...

  6. Chapter 3 Me and My Friends Individuality, friendship, and autobiography from Augustine to Rousseau
    (pp. 91-146)

    My themes in this chapter are individuality, autobiography, and friendship. The combination of individuality and autobiography is hardly surprising. Autobiographies are usually regarded as the best place for authors to reflect upon themselves as unique persons and lay bare their individuality. Critical voices are heard accusing autobiographers of being egocentric, if not narcissistic and pompous, and dwelling far too long on their subject; less jaundiced observers note the naked self-criticism and humble attitude that some writers reveal in their autobiographies. In any case, with the recently renewed interest in subjectformation—the development of the individual over time—autobiographies have become...

  7. Chapter 4 Sexuality, Love, and Gender The politics of heteronormativity in Reformation Sweden
    (pp. 147-186)

    As in the rest of Scandinavia, the great narrative of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Sweden tells us about religious reformation and state-formation, defined as a process in which the State took a firm grip on fiscal and military resources, the administration of justice, and the production of ideology. After a period of Scandinavian union in the late Middle Ages, two nation states emerged to increase their grip on the population: Sweden–Finland, and Denmark–Norway.

    During the latter part of the sixteenth century, Lutheran Protestantism was established as the official religion in all the Scandinavian countries; in the process, Sweden acquired...

  8. Chapter 5 Close Relationships—Then and Now
    (pp. 187-206)

    In the previous chapters I set out to show how premodern love and friendship, both as ideals and in the full diversity of reality, were not only important in private life, but also in public life. The focus of my analysis has been the ways that philosophers, writers, and State and Church thought and spoke about close relationships, and the great changes in these discourses over time. But I have also been able to shed light on specific variations in actual relationships by using diaries, correspondence, and autobiographical material. It goes without saying that I have only been able to...

  9. References
    (pp. 207-220)
  10. Index
    (pp. 221-230)