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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Sharing Thoughts on Leadership and Friendship

Modern ways of thinking place friendship firmly in the private sphere and view a leader's friendship networks with suspicion - even setting up legal frameworks to discourage such alliances or interest groups. From the perspective of the classical friendship tradition, however, the friendship-leadership pairing would not be viewed with suspicion. Rather the opposite: the leader to mistrust and to fear, as unpredictable and unreliable, would be the one who did not have, and work with and through, friends. At such times, leaders without a supportive friendship network might have been viewed with just the suspicion that we project onto leaders who appear to rely on and to do favours for? - their 'cronies' (17th century slang for 'old friends'). The chapter looks at what we might learn from the classical friendship tradition in terms of three questions: (i) What is friendship? - the key theoretical concept here is of friendship as a hexis, that is, a state of mind or disposition, rather than a feeling state or even primarily a relationship; (ii) What motivates friendship? -here Aristotle's model of 'levels' of friendship suggests ways in which the basic concept of friendship as a state of mind comes to be enacted; (iii) How to do friendship? - finally, some of the specific practices or actions of friendship will be discussed.