Friendship as Sacred Knowing: Overcoming Isolation

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We are haunted, Samuel Kimbriel suggests, by a habit of isolation buried, often imperceptibly, within our practices of understanding and relating to the world. In Friendship as Sacred Knowing, Kimbriel works through the complexities of this disposition to contest its place within contemporary philosophical thought and practice.

Stories of isolation amidst the fragmentation of community are familiar in this age, as are tales of alienation provoked by the insistent indifference of the scientific cosmos. This book goes beyond such stories, arguing that the crisis of loneliness in the present age is deeper yet, betokening a more fundamental incoherence within the modern personality itself.

Kimbriel engages deeply with the human activity of friendship. Chapters one and two examine friendship to unearth the contours of the habit towards isolation and to reveal certain ills that have long attended it. Chapters three through seven place these isolated ways of relating to the world into critical dialogue with the tradition of late-antique and early-medieval Johannine Christianity, in which intimacy and understanding go hand in hand.

This Johannine tradition drew the human activities of friendship and enquiry into such unity that understanding itself became a kind of communion. Kimbriel endorses a return to an antique and particularly Christian philosophical habit-"the befriending of wisdom."

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About the Author:


Samuel Kimbriel is a teaching fellow in philosophical theology at the University of Nottingham. He holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge.

Review:


"A very valuable work...Among the book's many virtues is its balanced combination of careful exegetical scholarship and complex philosophical argument...Kimbriel's writing style is patient, subtle, and engaging, and his achievements here will be useful to a wide range of scholars -- in historical philosophy, for sure, but also in those interested in friendship, the self, knowledge, and theology."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


"This is an impressive, thought-provoking and well-structured discussion of the importance of friendship for sacred knowing. Kimbriel effectively engages with Charles Taylor's genealogy of modernity in terms of the 'disengaged stance' and the 'buffered self.' He draws well from Augustinian resources, engages with Aristotle on friendship and civic virtue, widens out to a consideration of the theological dimensions in St. John's Gospel and to Aquinas's cosmic vision of friendship. Friendship brings before us the reality that ways of knowing are ways of being." --William Desmond, Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven, Belgium; David Cook Visiting Chair in Philosophy, Villanova University


"The failure of modern attempts to 'demythologize' the mystery of friendship indicates that our understanding of science and culture builds on profoundly unrealistic prejudices. Samuel Kimbriel's book approaches this challenge from an inspiring new angle. It combines a concise genealogy of the sentimentalization of friendship in western societies with an illuminating reading of the key sources of the pre-modern philosophy of friendship, and demonstrates convincingly that the related, premodern metaphysics and cosmology provide the only serious Western alternative to the inconsistent metaphysical underpinnings of our modern way of living and thinking." --Johannes Hoff, Heythrop College, University of London


"We should only have friends who contemplate the good. But this contemplation is replete. So why should lovers of the good need friends? This is the aporia of friendship articulated in Plato's Lysis. To resolve it, Kimbriel suggests that we must realize that ancient theoria was inseparable from a communal and liturgical life. But he brilliantly suggests that it is only fully resolved by the Johannine integration of knowing and loving, and the Trinitarian view that God is in himself interpersonal love. Now there is no knowing the good without friendship, and no knowing without friendship. To see the good is to become intimate friends with others. This scholarly trajectory belongs to a new agenda which rejects any separation of philosophy and theology as historically indefensible....This is an important and finely-wrought achievement." --Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge


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