Mirror, Mirror by Simon Blackburn
The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love

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Synopsis

Everyone deplores narcissism, especially in others. The vain are by turns annoying or absurd, offending us whether they are blissfully oblivious or proudly aware of their behavior. But are narcissism and vanity really as bad as they seem? Can we avoid them even if we try? In Mirror, Mirror, Simon Blackburn, the author of such best-selling philosophy books as Think, Being Good, and Lust, says that narcissism, vanity, pride, and self-esteem are more complex than they first appear and have innumerable good and bad forms. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, history, and popular culture, Blackburn offers an enlightening and entertaining exploration of self-love, from the myth of Narcissus and the Christian story of the Fall to today’s self-esteem industry.

A sparkling mixture of learning, humor, and style, Mirror, Mirror examines what great thinkers have said about self-love—from Aristotle, Cicero, and Erasmus to Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, and Iris Murdoch. It considers today’s “me”-related obsessions, such as the “selfie,” plastic surgery, and cosmetic enhancements, and reflects on connected phenomena such as the fatal commodification of social life and the tragic overconfidence of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Ultimately, Mirror, Mirror shows why self-regard is a necessary and healthy part of life. But it also suggests that we have lost the ability to distinguish—let alone strike a balance—between good and bad forms of self-concern.

 

About Simon Blackburn

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Simon R. Blackburn studied in Bristol and Oxford, following which he rose through the ranks at Royal Holloway, initially as a Research Assistant and EPSRC Advanced Fellow (working on various aspects of cryptography) and then as a Reader and Professor. He is a member of the BSHM, IACR, IEEE and LMS, an associate member of the AMS, and a Fellow of the ICA and IMA. His research involves combinatorics, cryptography, communication theory, algebra and the connections between them.
 
Published March 2, 2014 by Princeton University Press. 219 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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It is presumably little comfort to him that the slogan has metamorphosed over the years from “Because I’m worth it” to “Because you’re worth it” to “Because we’re worth it”.

Mar 22 2014 | Read Full Review of Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and ...
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