Philosopher urges us to rebel – by making friends


Geoffroy de Lagasnerie says focusing on friendships over relationships or family is a radical act in today’s society.

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Useful Vocabulary

to sync (informal): to synchronise; to cause to happen or operate at the same time

namely: that is to say; to be specific

to envy: a feeling of discontentment or resentment for other people’s possessions, qualities or luck

this raises the question: this invites an obvious question

to nourish: to provide what’s necessary for growth, health and good condition

to stem from: to come from; to originate from

at odds with: in conflict with; in contrast to

norms: rules or regulations

to long to do s.t. : to have a strong wish or desire to do s.t.

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Philosopher urges us to rebel – by making friends

Building your life around close friendships rather than family or romance is a joyous and necessary act of rebellion, and governments should put in place “friendship ministries” to radically rethink the way society is organised, a key French philosopher has argued.

Geoffroy de Lagasnerie has published a manifesto for friendship, detailing his close friendship with two other writers. The 3 friends eat together in the evening, speak many times daily, wish each other goodnight and good morning every day and sync their schedules to make sure they prioritise friendship moments, namely meeting up for long chats. He described the friendship as the centre of their lives, “one long discussion that never ends”.

De Lagasnerie questions society’s “authoritarian” insistence on prioritising family structures and romantic relationships.

He describes in the book how the three men always spend their birthdays and special occasions together. “When we send people our Christmas photos or post them on social media, we get a number of messages from people who say they envy the chance to spend the festive season with friends… This raises the question: why does friendship as a way of life seem so inaccessible, even to those who aspire to it?”

He said pure friendship, not just interactions with neighbours or work colleagues, must be constantly nourished. People don’t stay in friendships with people they don’t like, but many people do stay in a miserable romantic relationship long after feelings have died. Centring your life around friendship, rather than family or a romantic relationship, appeals to many, whether gay or straight.

De Lagasnerie, who is gay and has decided not to have children, told France Inter radio: “The book stemmed from a form of sadness and melancholy at how life is organised socially… the idea that life should happen in cycles: youth, studies, form a relationship, move in together, sleep in the same bed, have children… Those are institutional roles, but a lot of people feel at odds with that type of life and have other aspirations. My idea was to instead write an account of a life organised around friendship, to make friendship a space of counterculture against the institutional norms dominating our society”.

He said if friendship was better prioritised by society and governments, it would also end what he called the “horror” and “tyranny” of early morning culture. “I can’t get up early because I’ve been out with friends until 3am” would be seen as just a valid position as “I have to leave early to collect the kids”. The arts magazine Les Inrocks said the book made any solitary reader long to reach out and contact old friends.

Adapted from this article by ECP coach Darren ‘Kez’ Kurien

Let’s chat about that

  1. What’s more important to you: friends, family or your partner? Why?
  2. Who do you spend Christmas with? Why?
  3. Would you read this book? Why / not?
  4. Describe the characteristics of a good friend.
  5. Tell us how important your family is to you.
  6. Do you think “I’ve been out with my friends until 3am” is a good excuse to be late for work? Why / not?