Knowledge Without Friendship

Ivan Illich says this: “Knowledge without friendship that delights in the friend’s knowledge is deficient.”

This is a profound truth. Knowledge finds its sufficiency only when it is shared between friends. It finds its sufficiency only as the medium through which friendship is fostered and expressed, as the opportunity for friends to delight in one another. Knowledge certainly exists apart from such friendship, but it is a poor, sickly, deficient sort of knowledge, a mere pedantry, lacking in everything that makes knowledge a delight.

This kind of knowledge, and these kinds of friends, have been the great pleasures of my life. I will not try to name them all, because there have been many of them at many times and in many degrees, but those who have shared this pleasure with me will recognize what Illich is describing, and hopefully they will also accept my sincere gratitude for their friendship, for their knowledge, and for their delight. There is little that I value more.

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week, especially from the standpoint of knowledge without friendship and hatred. Two experiences in my week, one personal, one I read about (see, caused me to contemplate the tremendous loss and impossibility of a knowledge that is achieved by being taken, or forms itself out of brokenness.

    I can see these experiences all the more clearly for having had close friendships with people like you, which provide a backdrop for all other forms of knowledge I have in my life. I am able to exist because of them.

  2. You know Luke, this has helped me draw some conclusions and decide some course of action regarding some of my significant relationships- the straw that broke backs as it were.