By Simon Blackburn
Everyone deplores narcissism, specifically in others. The useless are by way of turns stressful or absurd, offending us whether or not they are blissfully oblivious or proudly conscious of their habit. yet are narcissism and self-esteem relatively as undesirable as they appear? do we steer clear of them whether we attempt? In reflect, replicate, Simon Blackburn, the writer of such best-selling philosophy books as imagine, Being strong, and Lust, says that narcissism, self-importance, delight, and vanity are extra complicated than they first look and feature innumerable strong and undesirable kinds. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, historical past, and pop culture, Blackburn deals an enlightening and unique exploration of self-love, from the parable of Narcissus and the Christian tale of the autumn to today’s vainness industry.
A gleaming mix of studying, humor, and magnificence, reflect, reflect examines what nice thinkers have stated approximately self-love—from Aristotle, Cicero, and Erasmus to Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, and Iris Murdoch. It considers today’s “me”-related obsessions, equivalent to the “selfie,” cosmetic surgery, and beauty improvements, and displays on attached phenomena reminiscent of the deadly commodification of social existence and the tragic overconfidence of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. eventually, reflect, reflect indicates why self-regard is an important and fit a part of existence. however it additionally means that we have now misplaced the facility to distinguish—let by myself strike a balance—between strong and undesirable types of self-concern.
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Extra resources for Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love
How are we to react to this charming yet more than slightly sinister myth? A superficial view would be that it tells us nothing about ourselves but is simply a story describing a particularly self- obsessed and socially defective young man. 2 For example, Narcissus imagines Echo’s sayings to be those of a different person, whereas in reality it is only his own voice that is being thrown back at him. So the myth might tell us that the voices we hear in our heads are often not those of other people but our own, falsely imagined to be those of others.
Indeed, young men in underwear advertisements, for instance, nearly always project an especially loathsome narcissism. We discuss later Rousseau’s view of the asymmetry between men and women in respect of vanity). We accept her at her own valuation, which is huge, so huge that she has no need of us, any more than a deity has need of his worshippers. She no doubt manages an icy inward smile with pleasure of being who she is, just as Narcissus might have smiled in his self-induced trance. But she need not smile at us—indeed, to promote this kind of illusion, she must not smile at us—because that would be a gesture of recognition and reciprocity, and the fantasy she is inducing is one in which there is no commerce with people like ourselves.
Thus, suppose you find yourself in an instant transported to the middle of a desert or ocean. You can see in all directions—but unless you have other clues, what you see does not tell you where you are. Or suppose that like Rip Van Winkle you regain consciousness after a long sleep or coma. You see what is happening around you—but that does not tell you what time it is. Time and place function as points of reference from which things are experienced, but are themselves no part of the experience.