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Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love – Andrew Shaffer

by Venky


If ever there was a misleading title to a book, this has to be it! Detestable dalliances, pompous promiscuity and astounding adultery litter this collection substituting the Shakespearean jilted love or a scorned heart. Inexplicably weird habits of a bunch of highly rated philosophers (for eg. Diogenes the Cynic’s reprehensible propensity to urinate, defecate and even masturbate in public), masquerade as love in this peculiar collection.

But nonetheless, this book makes for an interesting read. These philosophers whose at times, arcane and obtuse philosophy is deemed indispensable and whose works occupy a hallowed reverence in the portals of wisdom, prove themselves to be human (or at times sub-human after all). Try digesting this if you can:

Simone de beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre had a singularly unconventional fifty one year relationship during the course of which Beauvoir in her letters to her lover recounted her same-sex liaisons in illuminating detail while receiving from Sartre equally controversial musings dealing with divesting a woman of her chastity, with surgical precision. If this does not confound you, Sartre went on to adopt his Algerian Mistress, Arlette Elkaim as his ‘daughter’ (yes, daughter). Not to be outwitted, Beauvoir, in turn adopted one of her lovers, Sylvie le Bon, as her daughter (what’s with these kinks?) and bequeathed her estate to her!

Taboo and repulsion dot every page of this unique collection. Take the case of Peter Abelard. Falling in love with his own student Heloise, he stoically faced the wrath of his prospective father in law before ultimately winning the latter’s approval. In the interregnum, Heloise’s maid develops and ‘interest’ towards Abelard but is rejected to her uncontrollable fury. The story ends tragically when Abelard sends Heloise away to a convent, a move which results in the philosopher being castrated by his now angry father in law!!!

Andrew Shaffer entertains albeit in a revolting fashion and warns u to keep our carnal urges under prudent confinement. After all, there is no point crying over spilt milk, or in this case a castrated member!

‘Great philosophers who failed at love’ – Philosophy stood erect!

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