A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt--And Why They Shouldn't by William B. Irvine

By William B. Irvine

Insults are a part of the cloth of everyday life. yet why will we insult one another? Why do insults reason us such ache? will we do whatever to avoid or decrease this discomfort? most significantly, how do we triumph over our inclination to insult others?

In A Slap within the Face, William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging research of insults, their background, the position they play in social relationships, and the technological know-how at the back of them. He examines not only memorable zingers, akin to Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The silly person's suggestion of a smart person," yet sophisticated insults besides, corresponding to while a person insults us via reporting the insulting issues others have acknowledged approximately us: "I by no means learn undesirable stories approximately myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my most sensible pals always inform me approximately them." Irvine additionally considers the position insults play in our society: they are often used to cement family members, as whilst a lady playfully teases her husband, or to implement a social hierarchy, as whilst a md publicly berates an worker. He is going directly to examine the various methods society has attempted to house insults-by adopting codes of politeness, for instance, and outlawing hate speech-but concludes that the way to care for insults is to immunize ourselves opposed to them: we have to remodel ourselves within the demeanour urged by means of Stoic philosophers. we should always, extra accurately, develop into insult pacifists, attempting demanding to not insult others and giggling off their makes an attempt to insult us.

A rousing follow-up to A advisor to the nice existence, A Slap within the Face will curiosity a person who's ever added an insult or felt the edge of one--in different phrases, all people.

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Extra info for A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt--And Why They Shouldn't

Sample text

It was, for example, American journalist H. L. ”18 And it was British novelist D. H. 19 Other group insults are directed at those who practice a certain profession. Lawyers, as we all know, are much maligned, and although people might be reluctant to insult a lawyer to his face, they delight in coming up with jokes that insult lawyers as a group—jokes like this one: “Why do lawyers make better subjects than rats in laboratory experiments? INDD 32 10/3/2012 7:13:02 PM Words like Daggers 33 While everyone seems to despise the legal profession, some professions are despised primarily by members of other, related professions.

A quick check of the Internet, by the way, shows that naming units of ignorance after someone is a popular pastime. 4 The insults described above require a degree of wit and effort. INDD 24 10/3/2012 7:13:02 PM Words like Daggers 25 insult someone: he need only add a disparaging term such as “dummy” to the things he says to her. ” One might think that intelligent, articulate individuals would feel no need to insult other people, but they do. They disguise this need by carefully couching the language they use in their insults.

One way to increase the pain caused by an insult is to inflict it in public: it is one thing for your boss to call you incompetent behind closed doors; it is quite another for him to call you incompetent over the office loudspeaker system. And if we want to inflict a maximally painful insult with minimal chance of retaliation, we can insult someone in a manner that is simultaneously public and anonymous. Someone can, for example, write a disparaging remark about a coworker on the wall of a toilet stall in the restroom that he and his coworkers share.

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