Great Philosophers Who Failed At Love
Andrew Shaffer has created small love bios of 37 philosophers-from the ancients like Plato and Socrates to more modern love misfits like Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser. From celibates to seemingly endless lines of lovers, the great philosophers offer an interesting view of sex, love, and people who think too much.
Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love is a slim volume of only 192 pages, with each philosopher rarely getting more than three pages and a portrait. It's a fast read and the portraits show a group of people with interesting ideas on personal grooming. I read it from start to finish, but it could just as easily have been read by looking up your favorite philosopher and hopping from article to article.
The philosophers are listed in alphabetical order, which is a bit of shame, as two of the very best stories are the first two about Peter Abelard and Louis Althusser. One involves castration and the other an 'accidental' murder. In fact, these two tales are so wonderfully weird that the rest of book pales in comparison.
The stories are funny, often shocking, and occasionally even educational. After reading a number of the stories they start to form a pattern. The husbands hate their wives and the wives hate their husbands. The free thinkers have open marriages and have sex with anything that moves. Madness runs through most of the great thinkers lives, often from catching some venereal disease or another. Who knew that Descartes had a thing for cross-eyed girls and Jean-Jacques Rousseau liked spending time with a good Dominatrix?
Surprisingly none of them were killed by jealous lovers.
Many of the Great Philosophers had odd ideas about love, just as they all had odd ideas about just about everything. Does this really mean the great philosophers failed at love? None of them seemed to be all that happy and so they seem to have failed at life, not just love. Which is pretty much what this funny little book is about, showing that being really smart doesn't mean your going to be really happy.