A Slap in the Face

A Slap in the Face

How to Live in A World of Snubs, Put-downs, and Insults

Book - 2013
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William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging investigation of insults, their history, the role they play in social relationships, and the science behind them, examining not just memorable zingers, such as Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The stupid person's idea of a clever person," but subtle insults as well, such as when someone insults us by reporting the insulting things others have said about us: "I never read bad reviews about myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my best friends invariably tell me about them." Irvine also considers the role insults play in our society: they can be used to cement relations, as when a woman playfully teases her husband, or to enforce a social hierarchy, as when a boss publicly berates an employee. He goes on to investigate the many ways society has tried to deal with insults-by adopting codes of politeness, for example, and outlawing hate speech-but concludes that the best way to deal with insults is to immunize ourselves against them: We need to transform ourselves in the manner recommended by Stoic philosophers. We should, more precisely, become insult pacifists, trying hard not to insult others and laughing off their attempts to insult us.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, c2013
ISBN: 9780199934454
Branch Call Number: 155.232 Ir84s 2013
Characteristics: 253 p. ; 19 cm

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