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A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt--And Why They Shouldn't by William B. Irvine

By William B. Irvine

Insults are a part of the material of everyday life. yet why can we insult one another? Why do insults reason us such ache? will we do whatever to avoid or decrease this ache? most significantly, how do we conquer our inclination to insult others?

In A Slap within the Face, William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging research of insults, their heritage, the function they play in social relationships, and the technological know-how in the back of them. He examines not only memorable zingers, reminiscent of Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The silly person's notion of a shrewdpermanent person," yet refined insults in addition, akin to while somebody insults us by way of reporting the insulting issues others have stated approximately us: "I by no means learn undesirable studies approximately myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my top neighbors consistently inform me approximately them." Irvine additionally considers the position insults play in our society: they are often used to cement kin, as while a lady playfully teases her husband, or to implement a social hierarchy, as while a chairman publicly berates an worker. He is going directly to examine the various methods society has attempted to house insults-by adopting codes of politeness, for instance, and outlawing hate speech-but concludes that how you can take care of insults is to immunize ourselves opposed to them: we have to rework ourselves within the demeanour prompt by way of Stoic philosophers. we should always, extra accurately, turn into insult pacifists, making an attempt demanding to not insult others and giggling off their makes an attempt to insult us.

A rousing follow-up to A consultant to the nice lifestyles, A Slap within the Face will curiosity someone who's ever added an insult or felt the edge of one--in different phrases, every person.

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Additional info for A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt--And Why They Shouldn't

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Instead of telling him that he is fat, ugly, and stupid, we can tell him that his mother has these traits, or that his long-dead ancestors have these traits. It may not be possible to insult a dead person—they are, after all, incapable of experiencing displeasure—but this does not stop us from using the dead as an instrument by which to insult the living. INDD 40 10/3/2012 7:13:02 PM Words like Daggers 41 Curiously, indirect insults can be more potent than their direct counterparts. French soccer player Zinedine Zidane was apparently impervious to other players’ direct insults of him, but he could not abide having another player insult him indirectly by making a disrespectful remark about his female relatives in a 2006 World Cup match.

In an insult by omission, it isn’t what we say or do that insults, it’s what we fail to say or do. Suppose, by way of illustration, that you are invited to a dinner party. At this party, you can insult your host by failing to try one of the items she serves for dinner; by trying it but failing to say you like it; by trying it and saying you like it, but failing to have a second helping; or by trying it, saying you like it, and having a second helping, but failing to ask for the recipe. When you leave the party in question, you can insult the host once again by failing to thank her.

The owner’s feelings might be hurt by this apparent betrayal. Indeed, he might even respond to the dog’s “insult” of him by heaping invective on the poor creature. In this case, some would argue that since the dog did not intend to insult his master—dogs not being sufficiently intelligent to have intentions this complex—the actions of the dog cannot count as an insult. I would respond by pointing out that whether something counts as an insult does not depend on the intentions of the source of the insult.

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