This book studies the constitutive role of friendship as a factor contributing to the environment required for serious discussion between accountable adults to take place. The context for this study is a vision that identifies an anti-hierarchical imagination as a prerequisite for democracy and seeks to fashion an institutional format based on friendship, outside patriarchy. This India-focused study, which draws on philosophy, literary/historical analysis, psychological theory and fieldwork, revolves around the insight that exchanging feelings and thoughts with friends, in the light-hearted style of open conversations but with the seriousness that only informality can underwrite, is a uniquely valuable mode of exploring questions; it alone nurtures the growth of personal accountability. The capabilities of this mode as a site for the development of such maturity, the author suggests, go beyond what the institutional structures of academia and other public spaces can possibly support, given the masks that formal structures force on their participants.
The author argues that friendship is a metaproject, a crucible within which projects are incubated; this structural fact makes it difficult to initiate friendships if one is a very young child, not yet able to understand what projects are, or a very old adult, no longer willing to launch any. It is in the context of that argument that the author considers the Freudian view that all acts of friendship are nothing but sublimated manifestations of eros; she suggests that such a claim conflates issues of origin with issues of validity and ignores the metaproject character of friendship bonds.