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Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love Paperback – January 4, 2011
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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.)
“‘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)
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The pros of this book is that it decides to focus on the relationships of philosophers and intellectuals, this focus is a rarity and I think an important part of a philosophers context especially when trying to understand the historical and social context of a philosopher's ideas about love and sex. I cannot count how many times I have read a philosopher's biography wherein these intimate details are glossed over, or not discussed at all. The con is that with the amount of philosophers and intellectuals discussed, one only gets a brief and superficial glimpse at these people and their relationships. Sometimes the glimpse only lasts a page or two. I give this book the two stars that I did because of the following: it was an easy read, and tries to do something that I think is worthwhile.