Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love (Paperback)

By Andrew Shaffer

Harper Perennial, 9780061969812, 208pp.

Publication Date: January 4, 2011

List Price: 12.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


“Amazing stories! Incredible quotes! Sordid details! This book shows that a genius in the realm of thought can be a dummy in the land of love.” — Tom Morris, author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors

What do René Descartes,  John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Jean-Paul Sartre have in common? That’s right: they were all hopeless failures when it came to romance. Author Andrew Shaffer explores the paradox at the core of Western philosophical thought—that history’s greatest thinkers were also the most pathetic lovers to ever walk the earth. With razor-sharp wit and probing insight, Shaffer shows how it’s the philosophers’ missteps, as much as their musings, that are able to truly boggle the intellect.

About the Author

Andrew Shaffer is the author of Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love and, under the pen name Fanny Merkin, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey. His writing has appeared in such diverse publications as Mental Floss and Maxim. An Iowa native, Shaffer lives in Lexington, Kentucky, a magical land of horses and bourbon.

Praise For Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love

“‘Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love’ extends the schadenfreude to the boudoir.”
— New York Times Book Review

“A funny and oddly moving history of philosophy as tortured erotic dysfunction.”
— Neal Pollack, author of Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude

“Fascinating, thought-provoking and mildly disturbing... Also, if you are considering dating an eminent philosopher, you need to buy this right now.”
— A.J. Jacobs, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All

“Indispensable advice for all lovers—and especially for those who think they should learn about the art of love from philosophers. A wonderful summary of the musings on love by some of history’s greatest and most idiosyncratic minds.”
— Clancy Martin, editor of Love, Lies, and Marriage

“Amazing stories! Incredible quotes! Sordid details! This book shows that a genius in the realm of thought can be a dummy in the land of love. It’s a hilarious and provocative warning, full of cautionary tales for us all. Enjoy it and share it with someone you love!”
— Tom Morris, author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors

“[A]n entertaining romp through the seamy side of philosophy... highlighting the hypocrisy and downright ineptness of those who too often counted as our ‘greatest thinkers’ in this crucial, if so often overlooked, area of sexual politics...”
— Martin Cohen, editor of The Philosopher

“A fun way to learn about the lives and loves of the great thinkers.”
— William Irwin, co-editor of The Simpsons and Philosophy

“Shaffer’s jaunty compendium of highbrow heartbreak provides proof positive that even the most brilliant of minds can fall afoul of Cupid—and offers some measure of hope to the lovelorn.”
— Publishers Weekly

“If you’re in dutch with your valentine, give him Andrew Shaffer’s book, which recounts the tortured love lives of 37 thinkers. Compared to them, you’ll look as saintly as St. Thomas himself—who, Shaffer tells us, once chased a prostitute out of his room with a hot poker.”
— Martha Stewart Whole Living

“Eye-opening, funny, and frequently shocking.”
— the Cedar Rapids Gazette

“[An] amusing essay in highbrow schadenfreude...most of the philosophers, giant throbbing intellects and all, simply screwed up like the rest of us.”
— Maclean's