The pleasures of kindness have been well known since the dawn of Western thought. Kindness, said Marcus Aurelius, was mankind's 'greatest delight' - and centuries of thinkers and writers have echoed him.
But today, kindness seems to have gone out of fashion. In the age of free-market capitalism and the selfish gene, kindness is all too often regarded narcissism or weakness. Have we, as a species, become deeply and fundamentally antagonistic to each other, with motives that are generally self-seeking?
In a new book, ON KINDNESS (co-authored with psychologist Adam Phillips), historian Barbara Taylor calls for a re-discovery of the pleasures of kindness, and argues that what the Victorians called 'open-heartedness' and the Christians 'caritas' remains essential to our emotional and mental well-being.
Chair: Rachel O’Brien, projects director, RSA
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Find out more about the RSA’s Social Brain Project
On Kindness, by Barbara Taylor, Adam Phillips (Hamish Hamilton, 2009)
Added by Debra Z on February 6, 2009