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A Slap in the Face


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Table of Contents

Preface 1. Introduction Part I: The Insult Arsenal 2. Words like Daggers 3. Subtle Digs 4. Bludgeoned with Praise 5. Benign Insults Part II: Insult Psychology 6. A World of Hurt 7. Who Gets Hurt? 8. Why We Insult Part III: Dealing with Insults 9. Personal Responses to Insults 10. Societal Responses to Insults 11. Insults-The Inner Game 12. Insights Notes Works Cited

About the Author

William B. Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His books include A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, On Desire: Why We Want What We Want, and Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World.


"A Slap in the Face is an earnest book offering some good advice as well as some memorable insults." --Daniel Akst, The Wall Street Journal "Readers looking to add to their stock of insults will find much good material here, but they'll also find an insightful analysis of the way we insult each other, why we do it, how we react, and how we can adjust our notion of insults and modify our reactions to them...Written in a lively, entertaining style..." --Booklist "We may not like to admit it, but the impulse to wound with words has long been a part of human history, Irvine contends in this melange of philosophy, psychology, and cultural study. Insults may range from barbs meant as flirtatious bait to the famously eloquent gibes of Shakespeare, but Irvine pragmatically argues that regardless of intention or context, we must understand insults in order to deal with them." --Publishers Weekly "After providing readers with a catalog of amusing insults, Irvine analyzes the role they play in everyday life and offers invaluable advice for reducing their sting. His suggestion that you laugh at yourself when you are insulted--a form of verbal aikido--is nearly foolproof." --Mark Frauenfelder, founding editor of BoingBoing.net and editor-in-chief of the technology magazine Make "This intriguing book is written in a very engaging style about a topic to which everyone can relate. William Irvine uses leading research in the field to present information in a very accessible manner about the various forms that insults can take, reactions that people have to insults, and ways to more appropriately respond to insults. The points that Irvine makes will 'slap you in the face' as you quickly become aware of the prevalence of insults, your own and others, in your daily life."--Robin Kowalski, Professor of Psychology, Clemson University "Aristotle said we were rational animals, but the Stoics noticed that we were insulting animals. Other animals establish social hierarchies with claws and fangs, we do so with words. William Irvine is a collector and a connoisseur of insults, and well-chosen examples keep this book lively. But he also understands insults; he has important wisdom to impart, backed by his own common sense, some science, and some philosophy, about how to deal with the insults we are likely to get, and inclined to give." -- John Perry, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of California at Riverside and Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Stanford University "Essential reading in our age of rage." --The Lady

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