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On Kindness
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About the Author

Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and the author of twelve previous books, all widely acclaimed, including On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Going Sane and most recently Side Effects. Barbara Taylor is a historian who has published several well-known books on the history of feminism, including an award-winning study of nineteenth-century socialist feminism, Eve and the New Jerusalem, and an intellectual biography of the pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Reviews

This small, weighty book combines the insights of psychoanalyst Phillips (Side Effects) and historian Taylor (Eve and the New Jerusalem) in five eloquent chapters-three flowing, two turbulent. The former are historical, philosophical, and political and the latter psychological. The authors follow kindness from its mother-child origin, where security and vulnerability coexist. Kindness entails risk, is not selfless, and changes people as "it mingles our needs and desires with the needs and desires of others, in a way that self-interest never can." Accounts of Western views of kindness from biblical times through Hobbes, Hume, and especially Rousseau enchant the reader up to Freud, when the text drags in the incest taboo, degradation of the sexual woman, and other paradoxes of early and modern psychoanalysis. Overall, however, this is a profound exploration of a topic relegated too much to places of worship or child care. The loss of kindness in a society where selfishness is a virtue becomes "a cultural disaster." Highly recommended.-E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Praise for Side Effects:'Erudite sparks from art, literature, science and philosophy . . . refreshingly lucid observations . . . Phillips is riveting . . . he bangs nails on heads, and into coffins, with such eloquent precision' Telegraph'Frequent moments of brilliance, sentences that sing out as containing perfect sense . . . brilliant, baffling and fascinating' Observer

Praise for Side Effects:'Erudite sparks from art, literature, science and philosophy . . . refreshingly lucid observations . . . Phillips is riveting . . . he bangs nails on heads, and into coffins, with such eloquent precision' Telegraph'Frequent moments of brilliance, sentences that sing out as containing perfect sense . . . brilliant, baffling and fascinating' Observer

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