On Kindness

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jun 22, 2010 - Philosophy - 128 pages
2 Reviews

Kindness is the foundation of the world's great religions and most-enduring philosophies. Why, then, does being kind feel so dangerous? If we crave kindness with such intensity, why is it a pleasure we often deny ourselves? And why—despite our longing—are we often suspicious when we are on the receiving end of it?

In this brilliant book, the eminent psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and the historian Barbara Taylor examine the pleasures and perils of kindness. Modern people have been taught to perceive ourselves as fundamentally antagonistic to one another, our motives self-seeking. Drawing on intellectual history, literature, psychoanalysis, and contemporary social theory, this book explains how and why we have chosen loneliness over connection. On Kindness argues that a life lived in instinctive, sympathetic identification with others is the one we should allow ourselves to live.

Bursting with often shocking insight, this brief and essential book will return to its readers what Marcus Aurelius declared was mankind's "greatest delight": the intense satisfactions of generosity and compassion.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - William345 - LibraryThing

I dislike this book. When I first started reading it I noticed that there was absolutely no mention of Eastern conceptions of compassion and kindness. That's fine, I thought, it's a short book. I ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - adrianburke - LibraryThing

I got this book after reading an article on happiness in the Guardian last week. I found that very interesting and this book - this little book which fits the hand so nicely - is also interesting ... Read full review

Selected pages


Against Kindness
A Short History of Kindness
How Kind?
The Kindness Instinct
Modern Kindness

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About the author (2010)

Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and the author of twelve books, all widely acclaimed, including On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; Going Sane; and, most recently, Side Effects.

Barbara Taylor has published several highly regarded books on the history of feminism, including the award-winning Eve and the New Jerusalem.

She and Adam Phillips both live in London.

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