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Comment: Condition: Excellent condition., Binding: Trade Paperback. / Publisher: Harper Perennial / Pub. Date: 2011-01-01 Attributes: Book, 208 pp / Stock#: 2065373 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love Paperback – January 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061969818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061969812
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shaffer's jaunty compendium of highbrow heartbreak provides proof positive that even the most brilliant of minds can fall afoul of Cupid—and offers some measure of hope to the lovelorn. He profiles 37 great Western thinkers, detailing the sometimes lurid, always disastrous ways their love lives imploded. The brisk biographies paint a picture of the pitfalls of marriage, dating, and love, but also a philosophy primer. And after learning that Louis Althusser œaccidentally murdered his wife, that Albert Camus divorced his wife after discovering she was sleeping with a doctor in exchange for morphine, that Friedrich Nietzsche engaged in sexual intercourse on several occasions œon doctor's orders, and that Martin Heidegger discovered his son was the product of an affair between his wife and a family friend, almost everyone will feel better about his or her love life. (Jan.)  

Review

“‘Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love’ extends the schadenfreude to the boudoir.” (New York Times Book Review)

“A funny and oddly moving history of philosophy as tortured erotic dysfunction.” (Neal Pollack, author of Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude)

“Fascinating, thought-provoking and mildly disturbing... Also, if you are considering dating an eminent philosopher, you need to buy this right now.” (A.J. Jacobs, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All)

“Indispensable advice for all lovers—and especially for those who think they should learn about the art of love from philosophers. A wonderful summary of the musings on love by some of history’s greatest and most idiosyncratic minds.” (Clancy Martin, editor of Love, Lies, and Marriage)

“Amazing stories! Incredible quotes! Sordid details! This book shows that a genius in the realm of thought can be a dummy in the land of love. It’s a hilarious and provocative warning, full of cautionary tales for us all. Enjoy it and share it with someone you love!” (Tom Morris, author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors)

“[A]n entertaining romp through the seamy side of philosophy... highlighting the hypocrisy and downright ineptness of those who too often counted as our ‘greatest thinkers’ in this crucial, if so often overlooked, area of sexual politics...” (Martin Cohen, editor of The Philosopher)

“A fun way to learn about the lives and loves of the great thinkers.” (William Irwin, co-editor of The Simpsons and Philosophy)

“Shaffer’s jaunty compendium of highbrow heartbreak provides proof positive that even the most brilliant of minds can fall afoul of Cupid—and offers some measure of hope to the lovelorn.” (Publishers Weekly)

“If you’re in dutch with your valentine, give him Andrew Shaffer’s book, which recounts the tortured love lives of 37 thinkers. Compared to them, you’ll look as saintly as St. Thomas himself—who, Shaffer tells us, once chased a prostitute out of his room with a hot poker.” (Martha Stewart Whole Living)

“Eye-opening, funny, and frequently shocking.” (the Cedar Rapids Gazette)

“[An] amusing essay in highbrow schadenfreude...most of the philosophers, giant throbbing intellects and all, simply screwed up like the rest of us.” (Maclean's)

More About the Author

Andrew Shaffer is the New York Times-bestselling author of Syfy's How to Survive a Sharknado (Three Rivers Press) and Fifty Shames of Earl Grey (Da Capo Press). He has appeared as a guest on FOX News, CBS, and NPR, and has been published in Mental Floss, Maxim, and The Daily Beast, among others. You can find him online at www.andrewshaffer.com.

Customer Reviews

Super fun and intelligent survey of these lovers of wisdom who were crap at love.
L. Reisz
It humanizes these great minds and proves that no matter who you are, love can tear you down or build you up.
C. Trudeau
We get brief glimpses of these intellectuals' relationships, but very little is offered to reflect on.
R. Aldred

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on May 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
The one more philosopher who failed at love not mentioned in this book was Ludwig Wittgenstein whose one friend in life was David Pinset.

From 1910 to 1913 Wittgenstein had an intense attachment to Pinset that was so great that after the other's death, Wittgenstein dedicated a major philosophical work to him.

Sadly, Wittgenstein's later loves would all be unrequited...which is probably not that surprising if you actually ever read any of Wittgenstein's works.

Though many reviewers have shown a marked unwillingness to appreciate this book in the tongue in cheek way it was actually written, I actually found it to be a brief and humourous treatment. And I actually enjoyed the sense of satisfaction at being able to laugh at these individuals whose meandering and often all too wrong theories about life and its meaning have been thrust on me both in and out of academia.

So if you have a sense of humour, by all means read this book. But if you think you're going to quibble over either this book's premise or his pocket descriptions of the philosophers' philosophies, then by all means do something else.

Who knows? If you're a philosopher yourself and really don't like this book you may just choose to re-read all the philosophies discussed and being a philosopher you'll probably have a lot of free Saturday nights for just that purpose.
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35 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Massimo Pigliucci on March 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The basic idea of the book is intriguing: philosophers are supposed to be lovers of wisdom (that, after all, is what the word means). So how about investigating how some of them have been actually fairing in terms of their wisdom in matters of love? This could have taken the form of a few chapters in which philosophers who have actually written about love, or at least about ethics, would be examined in terms of both their philosophy and their actual love life. Interesting insights could have been gained, and the public might even have learned some philosophy as a bonus. Instead, greeting card creator Andrew Shaffer gives us, well, a bunch of short and entirely uninformative greeting cards from the lives of a bunch of people, a good number of whom where not philosophers at all (Henry Ward Beecher? Dostoyevsky? Thoreau?), and several of whom actually succeeded in at least one of their relationships with a woman or man. Perhaps the author can't deal with unusual situations, but Bertrand Russell had a loving relationship that lasted decades with his last wife, Sartre and de Beauvoir were certainly unusual, but they clearly loved each other for their entire existence (and they are now buried next to each other), and Seneca's wife was willing to die to his side (she failed, but mourned him for the rest of her life). According to which narrow-minded concept of "failure" are these actually failures? Not to mention, of course, that a similarly simple minded book could have been written about the love lives of famous scientists, artists, musicians, or car mechanics for that matter. It would have taken the same two simple ingredients: cherry picking to the point of distorting the record, and a greeting card size chapter for each entry.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Reisz on October 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Super fun and intelligent survey of these lovers of wisdom who were crap at love. Highly recommended for fans of philosophy, humor, and schadenfreude. I couldn't put it down. A great gift book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BookcaseLaura on June 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
As Blaise Pascal said, "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing." Interestingly enough, he is not among the 37 philosophers whose, often amusing and sometimes shocking, love lives are featured in this quick read of a book. The layout is more like a "Who's Who" than a thesis, with each philosopher getting a 2-4 page "entry" which includes a brief (shallow) mention of their life and work and how they "failed" at love. There is a lot of the multiple marriages, mistresses, and illegitimate children we are used to in today's society, but there are also some outrageous pairings, taboo relationships, and odd neuroses among other tales which make this book very interesting and entertaining. It is clear the author approached the subject with a sense of humor and was really not looking to judge (also illustrated by the fact that when he signed my copy at a recent book event, he also stamped an anatomical heart and a large red "FAIL" across the title page). For those of you who want to brush up on your philosophy, this is not the book for you. It is however, the book for anyone who wants reassurance that even the greatest of minds are as confounded by love as the rest of us are.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G. Carter on January 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's a funny read, and some of the direct quotes are absolutely hysterical. However, it's clear the author doesn't have a terribly deep understanding of any of the philosophers he's writing about, and fails to understand how their lives relate to their work, and is unable to discern between hyperbole, rumors, and historical reality. For example, it was said you could "set your watch" to Immanuel Kant's morning walk, but this is a bit of a myth. He was rigid about his schedule, but not nearly as literally dry as the author portrays him. Similarly, he fails to understand the real reasons that Kierkegaard left Regine Olsen, and how deeply rooted his thought process behind breaking the engagement is related to his philosophy, instead dismissing it as occurring for rather superficial reasons.
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