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The relational Forms of the Everyday I: Strangers and Friends

Lecturer: Sergio Mariscal

Originally Taught: Summer School 2016

We find ourselves located within an indeterminate field of possibilities for inter-subjective relationships that modernity, understood as awareness of contingency, opens up in our everydayness. We are strangers in the face of the abyss that grows between us, our contingent world and other strangers. Friendship points to specific meaningful forms that we create for relating to fellow strangers in awareness of such an abyss. These include the possibility of thematising the abyss itself not only in dramatic shades but also in comedic hues. Strangers who are friends can step back from the abyss and laugh at the world together without eliminating the gap that separates them. If they are able to remain at a distance while being together it is only within a kind of relationship defined in terms that are neither those of sub-ordination or instrumentality. Symmetric reciprocity does not fully define friendship but it stands, nonetheless, as a condition of its possibility. The boundless creativity of every person's internal life makes friendship inexhaustible and yet "having a friend" also means having a point of certainty in a sea of indeterminacy.

Course Schedule

Every session of two hours aims to explore one of the following questions:

1. How is friendship to be understood in a world marked by contingency or the instability of all the categories of order at the social level?

2. In what way is friendship related to desire and possession?

3. How is friendship constituted in the context of other relational forms such as love or interactions in spheres of specialisation?

4. In what way can friendship be linked to the notion of beauty, a notion more often and quite unsuccessfully housed in the realm of art?

5. How is friendship related to freedom and symmetric reciprocity?

Every session is accompanied by carefully selected readings including Aristotle, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Kant, Simmel, Derrida, Arendt and Agnes Heller.