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Samuel Kimbriel: Friendship as sacred knowing: Overcoming isolation

Book Review by Jennifer Constantine Jackson

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-019936398-8

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Jackson, J.C. (2015). Review of Friendship as sacred knowing: Overcoming isolation by Samuel Kimbriel. AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies, 3:1, pp. 63-65. doi: 10.5518/AMITY/18


What is the nature of authentic inquiry of human beings on all levels—personal, social, civic, and religious? How, and why, is the lived experience of friendship so central to such inquiry? These questions are at the heart of Samuel Kimbriel’s work in Friendship as Sacred Knowing: Overcoming Isolation. 

Kimbriel’s objective in Friendship as Sacred Knowing is a retrieval of “metaphysics of friendship”. He shows that a “cosmic” understanding of friendship is needed. That is an understanding that does not sacrifice either personal intimacy or social and civic engagement, but rather actualizes human engagement on every level. This objective is achieved in two ways. The first is a critical examination of Charles Taylor’s discussions of the pre-modern “porous” self and the “disengaged” self of modern and contemporary thought. The second is an elucidation of selected philosophical and theological (with a focus on Christian) contributions to the study of friendship in ancient and medieval thought. In the spirit of much critical thought in the area of friendship studies today, the author asks: “do we allow pre-modern texts to challenge our stance”?

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