Are independent people developed and generous people stupid?
A new book, On Kindness, by psychologist Adam Phillips and historian Barbara Taylor, asks why we generally see independent people as strong and charitable people as dumber or less developed. It asks how we got to a place in human history in which heroism is most often depicted as independence, and in which we interpret small acts of random kindness as suspect–as a repressed need to be recognized, as a sign of an overly submissive nature, or even as a symptom of mental illness.
On Kindness starts with a short history of kindness, from Christ‘s notion that kindness was naturally human, through Enlightenment skepticism (Hobbes‘ claim that we are naturally greedy), to the modern ideal of ownership. Today, when prompted to imagine a…
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