Saturday, February 25, 2012

Five best books about bad habits

Emrys Westacott is a Professor of Philosophy at Alfred University.

His latest book is The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits.

One of his five best books about bad habits, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
by Simon Blackburn (2004)

Lust isn't, strictly speaking, a bad habit, but it is one of the so-called seven deadly sins. A few years ago Oxford University Press and the New York Public Library published a series of short books, each devoted to one of the sins. Simon Blackburn's on lust is my favorite. He admits at the outset that as a middle-aged man, a philosopher and a Brit to boot, his qualifications to write on this topic could be questioned. But he does an admirable job, bringing clarity and wit to his discussion of a charged subject. "Broadminded though we take ourselves to be, lust gets a bad press," he writes. "It is the fly in the ointment, the black sheep of the family, the ill-bred, trashy cousin of love and friendship." I particularly like the way he punctures both the moral distrust of lust that came to dominate Christian thinking and the overreaching generalizations about sexual desire propounded by thinkers like Freud and Sartre. The essay is spiced with apt quotations from poets who for some reason seem to offer more perceptive insights into the nature of lust than do theologians and philosophers.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Simon Blackburn's Lust.

Learn about Westacott's five top books on philosophy & everyday living.

See: The Page 99 Test: Emrys Westacott's The Virtues of Our Vices.

--Marshal Zeringue