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Guest or host: A philosophical essay


Peter Venmans

Every day we are somebody’s guest or host. We travel abroad, visit friends, or welcome new staff to our organisation. Hospitality is omnipresent. At the same time, some say we are experiencing the end of hospitality. As a result of mass tourism, the rise of the hospitality industry, and the Covid-19 pandemic, the spontaneous cordiality of times past is said to have been replaced by commercial considerations, pragmatism, and prescribed codes of conduct.

Written in a clear, erudite style. A book for practised readers in search of philosophical profundity and reflection on important contemporary themes.
NBD Biblion

Peter Venmans’s ‘Hospitality’ presents itself as a philosophical essay. Philosophical because it analyses an abstract concept, and essayistic because it attempts to increase our understanding of a phenomenon without trying to be exhaustive or give ready-made answers.

In the odd chapters, Peter Venmans follows a chronological line in his thinking about hospitality. He begins with what Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ has to say about hospitality or ‘xenia’, before switching in chapter 3 to the Christian concept of charity or ‘caritas’. In modern times, this concept was replaced by ‘hospitality’ of the kind that involves payment.

As a reader of this book you look in a mirror that does not always reflect back the image you are expecting.
Paul Verhaeghe
Peter Venmans continually succeeds in taking his readers with him in a way that is appealing and accessible.
De Volkskrant

In the even chapters he swaps this chronological approach for a reflection on the etymology of the Dutch word for hospitality, gastvrijheid, and takes an ethical approach, in light of the thinking of philosophers Levinas and Derrida, which ends with political thoughts about hospitality, drawing upon the philosophy of Kant and Arendt.

This book offers a broad view of contemporary hospitality which is more than welcome.