Nietzsche On Friends



Welcome back to the Solo series on making remarkable friends. In this episode, Peter McGraw and Mary Dahm interview a scholar, Ruth Abbey, who has written about an unlikely expert on friendship: Friedrich Nietzsche. They discuss Ruth’s analysis of Nietzsche’s focus on the value of friends. In short, friends make us better people through their honesty and insights. Whereas previous philosophers saw the value of friends in their similarity, Nietzsche believes friends are valuable because of their differences. It is a fascinating conversation.

Listen to Episode #62 here


Nietzsche On Friends

This episode continues our series on making remarkable friends. Mary Dahm returns now as a co-host and we turn to a scholar, Ruth Abbey, who has written about an unlikely expert on friendship, the 19th century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche live from 1844 to 1900. His writing became incredibly influential after his death. In particular, he’s known for doubting universal truths, as well as his critiques of Christianity famously proclaiming God is dead. Among other contributions, Nietzsche wrote about the Übermensch, which contributed to the creation of the comic book hero or should I say, superhero Superman. We discuss Ruth’s analysis of Nietzsche’s writing in his middle period and his focus on the value of friendship that his friends make us better people through their honesty and insights.

We discuss how Nietzsche departs from the ancient conception of friendship put forth by Aristotle, Plato, and Cicero whereas, previous philosophers saw the value of friends in their similarity. Nietzsche believes friends are valuable because of their differences bonus materials can be found in the Slack channel. You can get access to that through the Solo page at, PeterMcgraw.org. One bit of bonus material is a passage I read from a book that says that, “You should invite the criticism of your friends.” The other is a deeper discussion with Ruth, my guest about Nietzsche’s contributions and background. All of it is fascinating. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Let’s get started.  

Our guest is Ruth Abbey is a Political theorist with research and teaching interests in the areas of feminist political thought, liberal political thought, animal ethics, Charles Taylor, and Frederick Nietzsche. She’s the author of The Return of Feminist Liberalism, Human, All Too Human: A Critical Introduction and Guide, Charles Taylor (Philosophy Now) and Nietzsche’s Middle Period. Ruth has a PhD from McGill University. She’s taught at Notre Dame and the University of Canterbury. She is now on the faculty at Swinburne University of Technology in one of my favorite cities Melbourne, Australia. Welcome.

Thank you.

We are joined by a return guest this time as co-host Mary Dahm. Mary is a writer and high school English teacher. She studied English literature and history at Boston College, and earned a Master’s in teaching from USC. She has appeared on two popular episodes of SOLO Episode 19, Write Your Way Out, and Episode number 34 People Who Shouldn’t Have Married. Mary also likes to deadlift. Welcome back, Mary.

I’m still back on the topic of people who shouldn’t have married. Is it people who shouldn’t have married anyone or people who shouldn’t have married one another or both?


It was people who shouldn’t have married anyone. It was basically, historical figures. We spent the most amount of time talking about Lincoln.  

What ended up turning out to be was people if they were alive, probably wouldn’t have married. They had to marry because that was the norm and if they were free of that, they wouldn’t have done it.  

Nietzsche is an interesting case here. He wisely did not ever get married and he should never have gotten married, had he had the opportunity and how do you find a willing partner.

You have anticipated, one of the things that we were going to get into. I’m happy that you’re here with us Ruth. In part because we’re here to talk about friendship. This is part of a long series I’m doing on making remarkable friends. We’re turning to a surprising expert, Nietzsche about the value of friendship. You have a paper called Circles, Ladders and Stars: Nietzsche on friendship.  

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One of the features of the ancient conception of friendship is not that it’s very valuable for people. Friendship is a significant human relationship but friendship has a moral component. Friendship is a moral force. A good friend can make you a better person and you conversely make that good friend a better person. Friendship is an ethical booster if you like. If you take two good people and you put them together and friendship generates more goodness in the world. One of the glitches, at least from our point of view with the ancient view of friendship is it was based on the idea that friends had to be similar to one another. The terminology is homophily however you want to pronounce it. Friends were going to be very alike, one another.

They would both be men in that ancient model. They would both be ethically good people. They would both be economically independent. You couldn’t be friends with a slave, for example. Nietzsche, takes over the idea that friends can make us better versions of ourselves, but not by being the same as us. He has an idea, which he possibly got from Emerson but it’s certainly there in Emerson, the American philosopher that friends have this effect on us. They make us better and stronger by being different by being challenging to us, by making us think again, by forcing us to reconsider what we take for granted, that can be a moral engine. There’s room for diversity in the image of friendship, certainly in Emerson and it’s there in Nietzsche as I read him. It’s very possible that it came from Emerson to Nietzsche that is missing in the ancient model.

Thank goodness we gave that up or Mary and I would not be friends.

You would not be friends by this model because friendship requires not just equality. In the ancient world, women weren’t equal to men, friendship requires similarity.

What I was wondering is it speaks fully about friendship. There’s no mention in here of romance, but I assumed that Nietzsche must delineate between those two things. I was wondering, where’s the difference there for him?

The ancient model a friendship, which is engaging at least tacitly, there’s no room for romance there. The ancient model of friendship as articulated by people like Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, as I said it’s based on a model of similarity. The people are of the same gender, but it’s not erotic. It’s a way of loving someone who’s the same gender as you, without a sexual component. It’s very important in the ancient view, that friendship is not a sexual relationship. This is, by the way, Nietzsche that gets picked up by Michel de Montaigne as well. Friendship and marriage or friendship and romance are very different types of relationship. Bias standard reading of the ancient view, friendship was a superior relationship to romance or marriage. This is also a view that Montaigne picks up.

When Nietzsche thinking about friendship, he’s thinking about it in a platonic, as it were, and non-sexual way. Once you want to start to laugh with diversity within friendship, you move from a model of homophily to heterophily where different people can be friends. There is no reason why you couldn’t people of different genders as part of the same friendship. This is certainly the case for Emerson. Emerson himself did have some female friends that he held in very high esteem. Even so friendship would not be a romantic relationship according to this classification, this way of carving up a human life and human experience. That’s because erotic love or at least the way it’s seen by theorists is such an overpowering emotion. It’s such a fickle emotion.

We don’t always experience sexual attraction for those who are necessarily ethically good, and it waxes and wanes. We can feel it powerfully for a while and then it might go away. Friendship is none of those things. Friendship is the opposite of all of those things. It sees the other with the art through the eyes of morality. It doesn’t matter what you look like physically, or how conventionally, sexually attractive you are. If you’re a good person, your friend sees that and values that about you. It’s very stable. It’s very lasting. Although the ancient philosophers were aware of the threats of friendship in principle, a good friendship only ends with death. Indeed, some of those ancient writings were written after the death of the friend. They keep the friendship alive through their beautiful memories of the friend. They very qualitatively seem to be different relationships, friendship, and romance.

That’s what I assumed or maybe I’m projecting how I feel onto the text, which can happen. It was stemming out of the impermanence of love, romance and sexual attraction. The impermanence of romance and sexual attraction, that’s what I read into this with Nietzsche was about. There’s a line in your paper that I found interesting if I can quote directly from it. There’s a line from Nietzsche where he says, “If we live together with another person too closely, what happens is similar to when we repeatedly handle a good engraving with our bare hands, one day, all we have left is a piece of dirty paper. The soul of a human being too can finally become tattered by being handled continuously. One always loses by too familiar association with friends and women.” I thought that was very interesting although I think that that is true, he was speaking about friendship there and not romance. That can happen with romance or friendship that enmeshment with another person and that not being good. I feel that’s more likely to happen with romance than it is with friendship.  

It could be also with parents and siblings that if you co-habit with that person, you see them all the time, then that can be very wearing and frame. That idea of friends keeping one another at a productive distance is also something that Emerson articulates very well. It’s a way of combining a notion of solitude and its benefits with the conception of togetherness, connection, input and growth from another person. It’s fascinating that long.

It’s so interesting because we read them separately and I wrote us a shorter quote which is this idea of, “Lovingly close, but respectfully distant,” that is friend. As someone who enjoys this solitude and at times individualism, also connection and camaraderie, I like this idea, not only is it beneficial, this idea that you think close is good but too close is not good in the sense. There’s a benefit to that respectful distance.  

Even with the right people. Too close with the wrong people can be suffocating, but what both Emerson and Nietzsche suggesting here is that we don’t want to get too close, too consistently, even with the right people. We need some time apart from and some distance from even our best friends. Nietzsche himself lived a very solitary life and that was partly due to his physical conditions. He was not a well person for a lot of his life. It was partly due to his economic situation because he had a very promising academic career, but then due to his illness or perhaps it was a lack of disposition for being an academic, he took early retirement. He had a small pension to live on, but not a lot of money.

Coming back to this idea about therapy for one’s own body, he spent a lot of his life wandering around Europe, trying to find the right climate and environment for him to live in. He lived not a solitary, not quite an itinerant life as well. This also would have made marriage difficult for him, even if he’d found someone, he thought he wanted to marry. He did propose to two women. It’s not like he was a committed bachelor from his teenage years. He wouldn’t have had a lot of money to support, a wife, and potentially a family. There were some economic constraints on him considering marriage. There were temperamental constraints as well. He also writes even the middle period works of the ways in which what he calls in the free spirit should never be encumbered by family responsibilities because those things get in the way of your freedom. They get in the way of your ability to move and to change your ideas. He holds all those things in very high esteem.

If he wasn’t such so disagreeable, he and I could be good friends.

No, you would be too alike.

By the great model they could be friends.

He has also saying, “A talent for friendship is one of the marks of a higher human being.”   

We get that in the middle period writings.

I like how we’re like quoting your paper back to you.

Another line that I loved, Ruth, and this was your writing, you’re summarizing what he said. You wrote, “After arguing that love and avarice are not antitheses, but rather different phases of the desire to have.” He then evokes a different type of love the friendship. This idea that love and avarice are not opposites, that they’re both a desire to have like you’re owned by your family in a sense you have ownership over them and they own you. It’s this tie that you can’t get away from. That was very interesting to me as well.

Sexual love can often be very possessive and be a form of the desire to have. We have to remember that in his criticisms of love, he’s also evoking Christianity because why is that? That is a philosophy of love. He’s coming at Christianity from yet another angle. It’s a multi-layered attack on Christianity that pervades his writings.

I work at a Catholic school. I’m going to have to make sure that nobody there ever sees this.

Many Catholics and Christians enjoy Nietzsche because he is such a tonic for them. He’s such a challenge. It makes them think. I’ve taught Nietzsche in Catholic universities before, and some students are repelled by it, but some want to say that, “He would have found this, okay, wouldn’t he? If you’d known this or he’d read this part of the New Testament, he would’ve changed his mind.” Some of them want to try to make him into a conversation partner and try to convert him. He’s not an anathema to all Catholics and Christians.

Education is supposed to expose you to the opposite view, in that sense. I’m happy to hear that your Notre Dame students were some leaned into Nietzsche. In your paper, you talk about Circles, Ladders, and Stars. It seems to be the case that he holds friendship in high esteem but are all friendships created equal in that sense of Circles, Ladders and Stars make me think, no.  

As I read that passage that he prefers the circle image of friendship because the latter image of friendship is like, you are on a journey moving upwards, which is a good thing but you have different friends at different stages. You leave some behind as you change personally. The circle model of the friend has the same differences and has different friends but it’s able to hold them all together in the one place as it were. Those different friends are an expression of the diversity and expansiveness of that person’s personality. The idea of star friendship is a way of the friends having distance between them and scholars read that passage slightly differently. I assumed that he was remembering fondly his friendship with Wagner when he was writing that passage.

Even though it ended very badly, he was looking back and appreciating the good times they had together. There’s another scholar who thinks that he’s alluding there to someone who was one of his friends at the time, a person called Paul Rée. Whoever he’s talking about there, the idea is that friends can separate, but still feel very fondly towards one another and very grateful for the friendship that they had. This also is a question that the ancients asked themselves, “How should we approach a form of a friend if we’ve been very close to someone and for whatever reason, we grew apart, what’s the appropriate stance to take towards that person.”

The ancients, I can see why Nietzsche would value the ancient Greeks because so much of their philosophy is focused around friendship. I feel like as the history of philosophy moves forward, there’s more political philosophy it moves further and further away from that.

Christianity is also part of the corporate there too. You won’t to be surprised to hear because scholars would argue that once Christianity arrives on the scene, you have this idea of universal love. You have this idea of equality. There’s very little room for the partiality and preference of friendship in the ancient model because you should love everyone equally. There is good in everyone. Everyone is made in God’s image and likeness. There’s very little ethical basis for this highly preferential, particular relationship of friendship. Some people would say that Christianity helped to efface or move aside the value of friendship in the ancient world. Therefore, in reviving that value Nietzsche can be seen by some to be pushing back against that Christian model of universal love and equal value, universal brotherhood. Let’s remember that Christianity puts a lot of importance on marriage as somewhat ambivalence importance of marriage, but nonetheless marriage is a sacrament, friendship is not.

One of the things that seem clear from the readings that I want to make sure it doesn’t get lost is this idea about the value of friendships. You talked about how a good friend makes you better and you make a good friend better. My reading of this is Nietzsche had a particular perspective as to why, and some of it has to do with the distance, one path is through honesty is that friends are honest with one another in a way that strangers aren’t. Strangers are polite, friends aren’t always polite. The second one is a word that I had to look up called perspicacity. I am the least intelligent person on here now which I had to look up. There are different words for it, shrewdness insight essentially is that your friends know you. In some ways, they know you better than you know yourself and part because they have the distance from you in order to notice things. They’re willing to tell you stuff, even though it’s unpopular.

That is an idea of the value of friendship that goes back to the ancients as well. Cicero in particular is very good at this, in his dialogue on friendship. He says, “You know a true friend because they’ll tell you the truth, even if it hurts.” Whereas the flatterer is as Cicero calls them, we’ll always tell you everything’s great and you look fantastic. We all want to be flattered. It’s hard to have the courage to listen to the friend, you have to realize that the friend’s honesty is directed to your benefit. If you’ve ever told a friend a difficult truth that you get no benefit from that and it can pain you to see difficult things about your friends, pains you to see it and pains you to deliver it. A good friend would do that. You would hope that they would do the same for you. There’s that reciprocity.

When I tell something to Mary and she writes back and text that’s mean. I should be flattered by that, it means I’m doing a good job. 

She should realize that you’re not one of the flatterer, the people who are trying to win her over through false miss in duplicity.

That’s never been a problem.

There’s a benefit for self knowledge in friendship as well. Our friends can know us better than ourselves. They can see things about us that we can’t see about ourselves and perhaps would rather not see.

One thought that I had, going back to this idea of Nietzsche, being so enamored with the ancient Greeks and feeling like the cultural values in the time that he lived were flawed. At one point in this paper, and I think it was your words that you said, “The pace of modern life had gotten in the way of friendship.” I wonder what he would think about now. Have we started to value friendship more since his time, or have we gone a direction where we value it less and why is that? I think maybe it’s partially our lack of work-life balance, the way we live. We don’t have time to go for a walk outside the way the ancients would and walk for hours and talk. Maybe if you have limited time your time goes to your family, it goes to your spouse. How pro friendship is in modern Western society?

Not very pro, I would say. Although maybe there’s something of a comeback with people delaying marriage, for those who do get married, people delaying having children for those who do have children, those gaps in people’s lives create time for friendship. From the ancient perspective, you said, “They’re just filling gaps, the real businesses elsewhere and the friendship is the filler,” which from the ancient perspective is a complete reversal of how it should be seen because of the incredible value of friendship. It takes a lot of time to be a good friend by the ancient model and by Nietzsche’s model too and as you say, we don’t have a lot of time for that. It’s also not a priority. Culturally, it’s not given that significance. There’s no legal enshrinement of the idea of friendship. There’s not a holiday or celebration that’s Friends’ Day. By now, there might be.

We don’t have the cultural recognition and institutionalization of friendship that we do for those other relationships. Some people would say, “That’s a good thing.” The thing about friendship is that it’s distinctive. It’s created by the two friends themselves in their mode and in their way that we wouldn’t want it institutionalized anyway because that would reduce some of the individuality and reduce some of the freedom that goes along with friendship. Whereas with marriage, there are much clearer public markers and all expectations around the behavior of married people. It doesn’t mean that all people in all couples observe those but we do a double take if a married couple acted in a way that was not in line with that. Whereas we don’t have that same set of expectations or friendships.

What can be seen is a lack of cultural recognition and in enshrinement from another perspective can be seen as a space of freedom. Friends can create whatever relationship they want. They can write their script for what their friendship is like. I wanted to go back to that point about friendship and criticism. That also shows you that friendship is not an easy relationship. This speaks to our cultural model we tend to think of friendship as being a cozy comforting space. A lot of the songs about friendship are all about that, “If you need me, I’ll be there,” and that’s important, this other idea that friendship can have a sting in it because your friend is honest with you, that’s painful and that’s hard. It’s not all soft, cozy and fluffy.

I do bonus material. I have a Slack channel for the SOLO community. You can sign up for that at, PeterMcgraw.org. A little bit of bonus material. I’m going to read a passage from a book that talks about how you should invite the criticisms of your friends. “You should seek out their critiques because they want what is best for you and they’re able to give it and they’re willing to give it,” which is connected to what we’re talking about now. At the end, we’re going to invite Mary to critique me to make me a better person.  

Based on what you’ve been saying whereas in a romantic relationship, critique can feel like a much more overall rejection of the person. It’s harder to build critique into a romantic relationship than it is to friendship.

It’s more threatening. I like this idea that friendship is making a comeback. We have this tendency because marriage has this special status in society. It’s so prominent. It’s seen as so important. It’s such a goal. It’s interesting that the ancient Greeks saw friendship first and, in some ways, friendships making a comeback and it’s making a comeback in two ways. One that you’ve mentioned, Ruth, which is as people delay marriage, they have more time on the planet as single people, the people who are foregoing marriage and the people who tried and it didn’t work for them and get divorced that they lean into those friendships as a result of that. I liked the fact that that it’s starting to become a little bit more of a conversation certainly is more important, at least in an implicit way.

The other one is that marriages have, undergoing their changes. They started as these arrangements. They then became these places of passion. Now, they seem to be more foundationally related to a friendship where people are looking for someone not for going passion. In some ways, it makes it even more difficult to be married because the person is supposed to be sexually appealing, turn you on, romantic and you’re supposed to be able to share everything about your life with this person. On one hand, it’s a better foundation because friends can make it through better as love wins. On the other hand, it’s a tall order.  

SOLO 62 | Nietzsche On Friends
Circles, Ladders and Stars: Nietzsche on friendship

When you throw children into the mix, and these people who are doing all these other things for one another are also parenting, that adds another whole layer of complication. I would say that feminism is partly responsible for the idea that marriage should be a form of friendship because of this emphasis on equality. Feminism has always believed in the equality in some form or other of men and women. If you’re looking around for a form of a relationship that is respectful, that recognizes equality, ethical and stable, then friendship is a great model for all of those things. Why wouldn’t you want your marriage to be based on friendship?

There are all the other countervailing considerations, like the role that sexuality plays in a marriage, at least in the first part, the idea of introducing children into the relationship and how that complicates things changes the dynamic. The melding of property happens in a lot of marriages because the traditional model of friendship was of economically independent people, and all the expectations that go along with being married. There are ways in which friendship has a real attraction as a model for marriage. There are ways in which at least that it doesn’t fit.

Can I ask a follow up question before Mary goes? You talked about melding. I use the word merging. One of the things that come up on the show a lot is this idea of what we call the relationship escalator. A previous guest talks about this standard appreciated relationship that ideally leads to marriage and children. One of the elements, there are some obvious elements like special status that we’ve touched on, monogamy, one of them is this idea of merging you merge your bank accounts, you merge your lives, you live together. Can you say a little bit more about why as you see merging as a threat to friendship or Nietzsche might see merging? I don’t want to put words in your mouth.  

You don’t want to merge or collapse too much into the other because then you would lose your integrity and individualism. The way I describe it for Nietzsche is that, friendship does involve some blurring of the boundaries between self and other. It doesn’t mean that two become one and that would be a sign of dependence and loss for him. The base is the strong individual personality and their friend compliments or enhances that but would never take that hostage would never take that over. That’s why the distance comes into play as well. If it became too easy to spend all your time with your friend, to agree with your friend about everything, then you’d be losing that valuable abrasive component of friendship, where the friend is challenging you to be the best version of yourself, not another version of them. It’s very much a model of people coming together while also retaining their individuality. That is hard within marriage. The fact that people used to in some still do take the other person’s name, that’s a very visible sign of the fusion of identities. We don’t do that with our friends.

I do feel like I want to push back a little bit against what you said, Pete, about that marriage means that you share everything. My parents have been married a very long time and they do a lot of things separately. They have very little in common, to be honest, other than the fact that they have children together and they love each other. They live very different lives and have different interests. I don’t want to give the impression that marriage in itself means that you’re going against this idea of being yourself and deciding to share everything. I think it’s more that there are marriages where people do that. If you are going to get married, you should be conscious of that risk and actively make a decision to try to avoid that. You could interpret this as, “If you do get married, make your marriage more like a friendship.” Also, in general to value friendship more because I do feel that our focus on marriage means that we value friendship last.  

Indeed, because when people get married, what ends up happening is they lose their friends oftentimes. There’s no debating that. There are exceptions, but friendships are diminished because marriages have special status. I would agree with you. I have a friend who’s expecting a child, we had a conversation and he’s been reading these books. One of the books had a passage in it that was striking to him, which is, “You and your partner need to find ten minutes a day to talk about anything except for the child.” Talk about merging. You have a child and your lives suddenly become merged around keeping this little thing alive and flourishing. I’m glad that your parents don’t spend all their time together, Mary.  

It’s very interesting, I can’t understand it because they love each other. They like spending time together but they have no common interests. They have nothing in common. My mom was this high-powered consulting executive. My dad is a super religious chemistry teacher, he loves religion and astronomy and everything that he loves bores the rest of us to tears. As an adult, I got to know them better the way you get to know your parents differently when you’re no longer a kid or a teenager. I was like, “What do you guys talk about?” Once we left the house, “What are you talking about?”

Ruth, I want to start to wind this down, but I want you to channel your best Nietzsche. I want to bring Nietzsche into modern day society. What he would say if he was going to give advice to single people about developing, maintaining, and perhaps even ending friendships?  

Look for someone different from you. Look for someone who is going to challenge you. Look for someone who has a high threshold of tolerance for change, because you will change who you are, it’s not a fixed thing. The idea of looking for a soulmate is very odd because ideally people will develop and change over time. He would say, “Don’t go for someone who’s too clingy.” Possibly, this might be more me, look for someone where you both laugh at the same things that can often be a great guy to who you be friends with. I, you the only two people in the room laughing at something latch on to that person.

My overall reaction to this idea that Nietzsche looks back in 2000 years, and wishes the world was more like it was 2000 years ago. I can relate to that in certain ways, entirely irrelevant. I feel that way about other aspects of our cultural values. We’re at a point where we need to bring friendship more to the forefront and not assume that a family is the ultimate goal of life and not assume that everyone wants a family and not assume that everyone wants kids. I’ve always known that I never wanted kids. I’m sure there are people would think that that’s very sad. The assumption that there’s one way to be. This feels like pushing back at that.

We have to remember in the interest of balance that for many people, the family can be an oppressive institution. For women and children, it can be a violent institution and for animals as well, aside from abuse and physical violence and even threat to life. As we neglect and undervalue friendship, we tend to romanticize the family and families do many wonderful things and bring much value. For some, there are also sights of damage, harm, suffering, cruelty and abuse. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

You’re right about the harm done to women and children within marriages, it’s not the men get off Scot-free either. The number of men who work themselves to death to support that family, the coal miners, the people in the military, and so on, who are taking jobs that they suffer and put themselves at great risk. As I always say, the patriarchy oppresses women and men, in many different ways. I think some of this comes from marriage.

People have to hold on to jobs. They can’t change jobs because they feel they have economic responsibilities. My father was an example of that without children to feed he could have taken some more risks with his career and maybe had a more satisfying one than he did. That’s another consideration.

I also do feel that’s changing with the fact that people get married later. There’s a new model where you take those risks while you’re young, the maybe mid-30s instead of 23, when you settled down and you’ve been able to take those risks.

Women are not necessarily economically dependent as they once were. Having children influences women’s economic abilities and capacities as well.

I’ll invite a counterfactual and that is if Nietzsche had married young, he probably wouldn’t have left the academy and maybe he would not have written all of this wonderful knowledge that we still talk about now and the great influence he had on the world.

He would have feared that getting married would have gotten in the way of his creativity and productivity.

I’m not anti-marriage, I just believe it’s overprescribed so people find themselves on the wrong side of that on occasion. This is part of a series. I am making remarkable friends, as I say that singles, solos should have a team. That team should be both personal and professional and of personal friends are most prominent in many respects for the reasons that we’ve discussed in Nietzsche, would say that is that they make us better people. They do it through their honesty and their intuition. There something is fascinating that Nietzsche was concerned about friends being too close. I nowadays have the opposite feeling that friends are too far apart, that there are large numbers of people who don’t have a close friend.  

They have the opposite problem. They have no one who are close to them, perhaps outside of their partner or at all. That is a very clear concern. The research bears out that a lack of close friends leads to not only emotional and psychological distress, actual physical health harms to people. What I am hoping to do with this series is to inspire people, to give them some tools and some ways to think about friendship. I think that Ruth and you Mary has given people a great gift, which is that friendships aren’t always going to be easy and that we should invite the difficulties that come from a friend, perhaps being critical, telling us something we don’t want to hear and not blind these supporting us. I want to say, Mary, thank you for first-time co-hosting, how do you feel perfectly?

I feel I did it very imperfectly but I did it.

That’s fine. I feel that way every time I host it’s natural. Ruth, thank you for your time. Thank you for writing this wonderful paper. This is one of the nerdier versions of SOLO, and I loved every minute of it. Thanks to both of you and cheers.

Resources mentioned:

About Ruth Abbey

Ruth Abbey is a political theorist with research and teaching interests in the areas of Feminist Political Thought, Liberal Political Thought, Animal Ethics Charles Taylor, and Friedrich Nietzsche. She is the author of The Return of Feminist Liberalism, and Human All too Human: A Critical Introduction and Guide, Philosophy Now: Charles Taylor, and Nietzsche’s Middle Period.



About Mary Dahm

SOLO 62 | Nietzsche On FriendsMary Dahm is a writer and high school English teacher. She studied English literature and history at Boston College and recently earned a Masters in Teaching from USC. She has appeared on two popular episodes Episode #19 Write Your Way Out and Episode #34 People who should never have married. Mary also likes to deadlift.



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