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Re/production and the work of friendship

Introduction by Graham M. Smith

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Smith, G. M. (2015) Re/production and the work of friendship, AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies 3:1, pp. 1-2. doi: 10.5518/AMITY/13


The connection between friendship, production and reproduction is a long one. As far back as Plato the notions are found to be connected. Consider, for example, the connection between friendship and re/production in The Symposium. Here friendship is connected to the re/production of a variety of social, political, and philosophical goods. In other words, friendship is connected to the nurturing and development of structures of order and value. However, one thing is notable about the dialogue in The Symposium – it is a dialogue between men. Whilst reproducing structure, these men exclude what they cannot do with each other: physically reproduce themselves to produce not just a form of life but new life. Yet women in general remain absent from the symposium, and are marginalised by the social structure and the focus of the speeches themselves. Noting this, it is perhaps more than an accident that Socrates’ own speech is not strictly in his own voice, but takes the shape of the retelling (reproduction) of the teachings of the priestess Diotima. Diotima, then, plays a significant role in the dialogue – reproducing herself and her world through the mouth of Socrates. In The Symposium there is a complex dynamic of friendship, inclusion, and exclusion. Every production has a dual aspect: it both produces what is included and excluded, what is present and what is absent.

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