Assholes: A Theory

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Oct 30, 2012 - Philosophy - 240 pages

In the spirit of the mega-selling On Bullshit, philosopher Aaron James presents a theory of the asshole that is both intellectually provocative and existentially necessary.

What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often personally stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name. Try as we might to avoid them, assholes are found everywhere—at work, at home, on the road, and in the public sphere. Encountering one causes great difficulty and personal strain, especially because we often cannot understand why exactly someone should be acting like that.

Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Much as Machiavelli illuminated political strategy for princes, this book finally gives us the concepts to think or say why assholes disturb us so, and explains why such people seem part of the human social condition, especially in an age of raging narcissism and unbridled capitalism. These concepts are also practically useful, as understanding the asshole we are stuck with helps us think constructively about how to handle problems he (and they are mostly all men) presents. We get a better sense of when the asshole is best resisted, and when he is best ignored—a better sense of what is, and what is not, worth fighting for.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Bricker - LibraryThing

An interesting look at what makes an asshole an asshole versus just a jerk or a sociopath and how we as a society can choose to accept their behavior or work to modify it for the greater good. I initially thought it would be more humorous and less scientific, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - literaryperuser - LibraryThing

Assholes is a philosophical discussion of the origins of assholes. This refers to those who display chronic disregard for others and a pervasive view that society's rules do not apply to them. The ... Read full review


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About the author (2012)

AARON JAMES holds a PhD from Harvard and is associate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy, and was awarded the Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, spending the 2009–10 academic year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He’s an avid surfer (the experience of which has directly inspired this book) . . . and he’s not an asshole.

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