Virtue and Sociability
Early Modern Notions of Friendship in ContextLichtenberg-Kolleg, Georg-August-University
Venue: Historic Observatory/Historische Sternwarte,
Geismar Landstraße 11, 37083 Göttingen
27-28 February 2020
Friendship is a basic feature of ethics and social life, and our workshop will investigate friendship in a historical perspective. We will concentrate on the early modern period (1500-1700) and are especially interested how early moderns reappraised, re-elaborated, and criticized traditional ideas of friendship.
Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus and the Stoics put friendship to the core of human social and political affairs, seeing the philos as a companion and an equal and defining the reciprocal obligations of friends in terms of padeia, or the Greek educational pattern. For Roman thinkers such as Cicero and Seneca, too, friendship is a special human relationship, despite changes in the social and political landscape: shifting the focus to wealth and political influence, the amicus became a cliens. Both of these conceptions shaped, in turn, the Christian view on friendship and European culture with its religious imprint and hierarchical structures.
How was friendship considered, practiced, modeled, and represented in early modern culture, then? Which kind of dynamics did the idea of friendship develop? How did notions of friendship take up these traditional elements, and how did they react to changes and innovations?