Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I read on p. 32 of the TLS dated January 1, 2010 that "Oxford University Press has chosen 'unfriend' as the Oxford Word of the Year, in view of the fact that it has recently gained currency as a verb -- as in 'I had to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.'  Unfriend, says OUP in that annoying see-how-unstuffy-we-are way, 'has real lex-appeal."  Lex, as if you needed to be told, is a contraction of lexicographer."

That unfriend is the OUP word of the year reminds me of something a *friend* who teaches Aristotle to undergraduates told me a little while back.  Though they liked some of what they discovered in Aristotle, the undergraduates didn't like at all Aristotle's judgment that, given what friendship really is, we can't possibly have very many of friends.  I don't myself know how Facebook operates, but I know enough to conclude that "friending" on Facebook doesn't involve the claim that the souls one "friends" and  potentially "unfriends" have, as Aristotle said true friends do, a shared vision of the good.  Given the popularlity of Facebook, it's a real shame that its choice of terminology for an action of potentially trivial inclusion continues the work of cheapening the concept of friendship.  And yes, I know I sound like a fuddy-duddy, and my friends know why. 


Brennan, Patrick | Permalink

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