On Friendship: A Conversation with A.C. Grayling
Renowned philosopher and writer A.C. Grayling, author of Friendship, has spent much time consider the connections formed between two people. Hear him speak about these bonds in this interview and video with Yale University Press, London!
Yale University Press: How important is friendship in the twenty-first century?
A.C. Grayling: Friendship has always been central to human existence, and although it is no longer a matter of leaguing together to bring down a woolly mammoth, it remains an indispensable psychological and social platform for good lives. In some ways the new media of communication and social networking has overextended the notion of “friendship” to a shallow simulacrum to that relationship, but they also make it possible for people to be together in new ways, and to nourish the bonds in which friendship consists.
YUP: Can friendship ever be bad for us?
ACG: It is all too possible to have toxic friends; it too often happens that people can do unwise or bad things in the name of friendship; having the wrong people as friends can be destructive; so yes—friendship can be bad for us. But it is far more often good for us, because we could not even begin to flourish fully unless we had friends.
YUP: Can only humans be friends?
ACG: There is empirical evidence of connections very like friendships among chimpanzees; many people regard their pets, especially dogs, as friends—though here “companion” is a more accurate term. In general it would seem that the focal case of friendship is the conscious, chosen, self-aware human relationship that implies a rich network of factors about trust, obligation, pleasure, and mutual concern.