From political friendship to befriending the world

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Political friendship is typically portrayed as a dyadic relationship. In this traditional model, friendship is conceived as a positive intersubjective experience of relation-to-self and relation-to-other, assuming the reciprocity and equality characteristic of symmetrical relations of recognition. This essay explores an alternative, triadic model of political friendship suggested by the work of Hannah Arendt. Arendt makes the claim, at odds with most modern accounts, that “politics is not so much about human beings as it is about the world that comes into being between them and endures beyond them.” I suggest that the dyadic model of political friendship is incomplete; a more adequate paradigm would foreground triadic relations of interest, concern and care for the phenomenal world itself, conceived as the quasi-objective intermediary of human artifice. As a “public thing,” a shared world is a necessary condition for intersubjective friendship and therefore is deserving of a properly political mode of acknowledgement and friendship in its own right.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-764
Number of pages20
JournalThe European Legacy
Issue number7
Early online date16 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Hannah Arendt
  • Friendship
  • Political
  • Mutuality
  • Recognition
  • World


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