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From the Self to the Selfie

RSA Event


RSA House, London

  • Mental health
  • Philosophy

Academic philosopher and author Simon Blackburn explores the history of self-regard from Narcissus to "the selfie", and asks - is self-love to be deplored or is it a healthy and necessary part of life?


When "selfie" became the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year in 2013 many saw it as symptomatic of the triumph of the self-absorbed, individualistic "because-I'm-worth-it" generation. But is narcissism always to be deplored? Isn't a measure of self-regard a healthy necessity - and could we avoid it even if we tried?

Acclaimed academic philosopher and author Simon Blackburn visits the RSA to explore the history of self-love through the writings of great thinkers from Aristotle to Adam Smith, Kant and Iris Murdoch -  and to reflect on its contemporary manifestations - from the rise in cosmetic surgery and the burgeoning self-esteem industry, to the tragic over-confidence of Bush and Blair and the fatal commodification of social life.

Speaker: Simon Blackburn, philosopher and author of "Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love" (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Chair: Jonathan Rowson, director, Social Brain Centre, RSA 


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