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Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love Hardcover – March 2, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"Mirror, Mirror is a short, relaxed book, for the educated lay reader. . . . Reading him, we feel as if we were sitting in a comfortable chair, after dinner, listening to our friend Blackburn tell us not so much about politics or social history as about what lies behind them: morals--that is, what we owe to others, as opposed to what we want for ourselves. . . . [H]is prose is clear. It is also unostentatious."--Joan Acocella, New Yorker

"Blackburn writes on vanity, pride and amour proper with deep insight."--Marina Gerner, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] lucid and graceful philosophical probing of self-consciousness. . . . Simon Blackburn's Mirror, Mirror is a very fine and brilliant book, full of the sort of measured analysis and keen insight you might expect from that excellent University of Cambridge philosopher. . . . Blackburn is not just a sure and supremely knowledgeable narrator in whom we can have utmost confidence, but one with a quirky ear, alert to the curious side note and irrefutable detail that can make his sometimes dusty discipline gleam with a new sheen and edge."--Shahidha Bari, Times Higher Education

"[O]ne of the best popularisers of his discipline."--The Economist

"[T]he energy of his prose is generally exhilarating, and often funny. . . . [A]n agile, learned tour of the emotions and attitudes that human beings have towards their own and other selves. Drawing on an eclectic array of texts from literature, psychology and philosophy, Blackburn examines the ways in which a healthy self-respect, and pride in one's real achievements, can tip into vanity, envy and hubris. In doing so he puts the heat not only on the richest 1 per cent, but on us all, and all our follies."--Hannah Dawson, Prospect

"Blackburn never waxes memoiristic; he uses the first person sparingly. Still, the book implies a quest, Socrates-like, for self-knowledge--by no means to be confused with what Narcissus was after."--Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"Guiding us gracefully through the philosophers and writers of subjectivity . . . Blackburn's book is quietly insistent on the potency of rigorous thinking about subjectivity in the face of a deluded, hubristic and dangerous narcissism. . . . Blackburn makes his points with seriousness and severity, but also with a quietly lyrical sensitivity to the necessity of self-respect as a foundation for the respect of others. . . . An admirable calling for philosophers, psychologists and students of myth alike."--Helen Tyson, Literary Review

"Simon Blackburn explores the complex phenomena surrounding selves and self-regard, offering deep insights into notions like pride, ambition, vanity, authenticity, and much else."--newbooksinphilosophy.com

"Showing the ways pride and shame work together is Blackburn at his best. . . . This is a book by a philosopher who knows the history of ideas as well as anyone working today, written in Blackburn's witty, accessible, self-deprecating style. I recommend it with enthusiasm. With my own tendency toward misanthropy, I closed the book envying him his evident respect for and even love of other human beings."--Clancy Martin, Chronicle of Higher Education

"Blackburn's grasp on the subject is impeccable and his lucid narrative is loaded with nuggets of wisdom. . . . The book provides enough resources for self-correction, a search for true self, based on a hard process of analysis, discovery and purification."--Cover Drive Blog

"Quoting Miss Piggy and Wittgenstein with equal ease, Blackburn maps the terrain of self-love in its many manifestations from self-esteem to vanity, narcissism, and beyond."--Choice

"Writing in his usual witty style, Blackburn weaves together insights from Greek mythology, popular culture, literature, and the history of philosophy to develop a remarkably seamless discussion."--Lorraine Besser-Jones, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Blackburn's tone is light-hearted and often entertaining, and I don't doubt the book's appeal to a generalist audience wishing to take pleasure in a well-crafted distillation of philosophical ideas of the good life."--Julie Walsh, Centre for Medical Humanities

"Blackburn's wide ranging, engaging, and deeply thoughtful volume is admirable for many reasons, but above all else, one hopes, it is a tool to help liberate the human imagination."--Troy Jollimore, Philosophers' Magazine

From the Back Cover

"With his hallmark clarity, lucidity, and accessibility, Blackburn gives us a remarkable set of insights into a highly significant yet too-little explored area of ethical concern. This is important and original philosophy, beautifully done."--A. C. Grayling, author of The Good Book: A Humanist Bible

"A wise, witty, and rewarding read."--Patricia S. Churchland, author of Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain

"A lively philosophical commentary on a topic of immediate cultural concern, Mirror, Mirror presents a biting critique of narcissism and other vices of the overinflated self. Simon Blackburn brings the issues to life with his customary irreverence and energy: he's alert to their moral and cultural significance, has a keen eye for the ridiculous, and wears his learning lightly."--Rae Langton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691161429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691161426
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1990 was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and the best-selling Think and Being Good, among other books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D E Browne on April 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An outstanding work of accessible philosophy.

Blackburn is one of the best philosophers in the Anglophone world.

A brilliant book.
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2 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin M. Davis on June 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, my disclaimer - I am skeptical of the value of book reviews of this sort, as they tend to say more about me than about the book. That out of the way, I found this volume to be largely unreadable. I was intrigued after hearing the author on NPR, and gave a serious effort at reading his book. For my taste, he is far too wordy, and much of what he says is fairly obvious. After enduring the first couple of chapters., and trying to skip around reading ahead, I had to admit that this one wasn't worth my time.

An unhappy combination of pompously verbose and shallow.
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