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 way of life. yet why will we insult one another? Why do insults reason us such soreness? will we do whatever to avoid or reduce this ache? most significantly, how do we conquer our inclination to insult others?

In A Slap within the Face, William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging research of insults, their background, the function they play in social relationships, and the technological know-how at the back of them. He examines not only memorable zingers, resembling Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The silly person's thought of a shrewdpermanent person," yet sophisticated insults in addition, equivalent to while a person insults us by way of reporting the insulting issues others have acknowledged approximately us: "I by no means learn undesirable studies approximately myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my top associates continually inform me approximately them." Irvine additionally considers the function insults play in our society: they are often used to cement relatives, as while a lady playfully teases her husband, or to implement a social hierarchy, as while a chairman 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 how one can take care of insults is to immunize ourselves opposed to them: we have to remodel ourselves within the demeanour advised by means of Stoic philosophers. we should always, extra accurately, turn into insult pacifists, attempting not easy to not insult others and guffawing off their makes an attempt to insult us.

A rousing follow-up to A advisor to the great existence, A Slap within the Face will curiosity an individual who's ever brought an insult or felt the edge of one--in different phrases, each person.

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

Example text

Suppose that when Mary sees the dime, she stoops to pick it up. INDD 26 10/3/2012 7:13:02 PM Words like Daggers 27 unsuccessfully, to get it off the floor. At this point, the coworkers, who had been watching with anticipation, might burst into laughter: “See! ” When Mary figures out what has happened, she is likely to feel humiliated. The practical joke just described is hypothetical, but after I mentioned it to a group of students in a presentation about insults and the role they play in human affairs, one student confessed that he had been a coconspirator in a similar practical joke.

12 Consider, finally, author Graham Greene’s response to a contest run by New Statesman magazine to come up with the best parody of his writing style. Many authors would resent being mocked in this manner, but Greene responded by entering the contest under a pseudonym. 13 I will have much more to say about self-deprecating humor in chapter 9. As we shall see, if you can make fun of yourself, you make it very difficult for others to make fun of you. In particular, if you describe your face as resembling an elephant’s behind, what is left for others to say?

More likely, though, Tom will not enjoy being used as the teacher’s benchmark for poor academic performance, and his feelings will be hurt. INDD 48 10/3/2012 7:13:55 PM Subtle Digs 49 words, will have caused “collateral damage”: it was aimed at Sam but hit Tom as well. In the previous chapter, we explored the social phenomenon known as backbiting, in which we blatantly insult someone who isn’t present. We saw that sometimes the person who is witness to backbiting will report it to the target of the backbiting.

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