Love and Friendship in the Western Tradition
From Plato to Postmodernity
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Love and Friendship in the Western Tradition comprises a collection of essays written over a 25 year period by the late Rev. Professor James McEvoy on the theme of friendship. The book traces the genesis and development of philosophical treatments of friendship from Greek philosophy, through the Middle Ages, to modern and postmodern philosophy. The collection’s three major concerns are: (1) the history of philosophical discussions of friendship; (2) the role of friendship in the cultivation of the philosophical life; (3) the marginalization of friendship as a theme for philosophical reflection and practice in the modern period.
As the author was primarily a medievalist, a great deal of the focus of the essays is on the development of the theme of friendship in the Middle Ages (in the thought of Augustine, Aquinas, Aelred of Rievaulx, Henry of Ghent, Robert Grosseteste, etc.). However, this focus, while a value in itself, also serves to connect philosophical perspectives on friendship from before and after the middle ages. It connects to the time before inasmuch as much of the work done on friendship in the Middle Ages is anchored in interpretations of Aristotle and Plato, and it connects to the time after by providing a counterpoint to the modern paradigm of what constitutes the philosophical life.
The collection combines historical with thematic approaches to scholarship on this issue and is one of the only books of its kind to do so. It is, perhaps, unique in its historical sweep and will prove to be a canonical source for further research on this topic.
"There is much that McEvoy contributes to the history of friendship from classical antiquity to modernity. He is particularly adept at tracing the use of specific terms, e.g., philia, agape, in the course of the philosophical tradition and distinguishing the various senses and uses given to the terms by various writers… meticulous footnotes and a generous use of primary and secondary sources."~John P. Bequette, author of Bede the Theologian: History, Rhetoric, and Spirituality (CUA Press)
"The late Professor James McEvoy is mostly known as a medievalist, and especially as an eminent scholar on the life and works of Robert Grosseteste. But he also had a profound interest in the topic of friendship, on which he published numerous articles over the course of his academic career. This volume brings together his most significant contributions in the English language (for he published in French and German as well), ably edited and introduced by James McGuirk. These texts, which explore the philosophy of friendship from antiquity through postmodernity, constitute a landmark contribution to the scholarly treatment of the philosophy of friendship in the West."~Philipp W. Rosemann, Cottrill-Rolfes Chair of Catholic Studies, University of Kentucky