“Accidental” wife murder. Adultery – on a grand scale. Adopting lovers as children. Misogyny – Socrates style. Physical deformation via venereal disease. Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love is a collection of the love-gone-wrong-lives of some of the greatest minds in history. Men and women alike, this group of 37 philosophers were much better off as thinkers than as lovers.
There is, among many people, this idea that anything to do with philosophy (or other certain topics – mine is physics) is going to be difficult. This book isn’t something to be afraid of – there’s no super-high page count and you don’t need the dictionary ever other sentence. The book itself is actually quite small and a really quick read. Once I actually sat down and got into the book I finished it in less than an hour. I figure its the way that Shaffer set the book up that makes it so easy to read. Each philosopher has his or her own little section. Shaffer gives the gist of what the individual was known for, a little bit about their life, talks about the love gone wrong, and ends each section with an ‘in their own words’ tidbit. Shaffer uses letters and other writings from these men and women as the basis for the book, so it’s not as if he is making anything up which gives him major points in my book.
I think it’s important to mention that Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love isn’t about the actual philosophies of these individuals. Shaffer doesn’t attack anyone for how they lived saying ‘so and so thought this and said this and did this and so he must be wrong.’ Some people might try to do that, but Shaffer isn’t one of them. He does inject a bit of his own humor and such, but what one of us out there could write this kind of book without any commentary at all? I sure couldn’t. And it certainly wouldn’t be as fun to read if there wasn’t any humor.
The book doesn’t have much depth to it. It’s really just about some odd, unfortunate, or by some of our standards just plain crazy things that people said and did when it came to their love lives. Though I must say, there are certain individuals in this book who’s love lives can’t really be called failures. Some of these people just made a life change, drastic as they may be.
Bottom line, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love contains some interesting stories and causes a few chuckles. It’s great light reading, and if you’re looking for something to divert your attention from, say rough day at the office, this is a book that is sure to make you feel better about yourself, your love life, and life in general.
A rather odd idea but it doesn’t make my to read list…..
Yeah… I’m glad I read it, but it’s not something I’ll be revisiting constantly and the like.