Warm, sensitive, creative, outgoing, cheeky, creepy. Scan any personal ads page and it's clear that to get a life you need a personality first. It is also a notion with a long and often bizarre history: in early Greece and medieval Europe, it was thought to depend on the balance of bile in the body.
On Personality is a thoughtful and stimulating look under the skin of this widely-used but little understood phenomenon. Peter Goldie points out that we rely on personality to do a lot of work: describe, judge, understand, explain and predict others as well as ourselves. Is it really up to this task? If personality is about 'character', is it a relic of a bygone Victorian age? If personality is so reliable, how can a virtue in one person be a vice in another?
Drawing on a great range of philosophers, novelists and films, from Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Nietzsche to Joseph Conrad, Middlemarch, War and Peace and Bridget Jones' Diary, Peter Goldie also discusses some famous psychology experiments. If personality is a reliable guide to predicting what people will do, he reflects on why people often surprise us and asks whether personality is simply down to chance and circumstance.
On Personality is essential reading for anyone interested in this fascinating but slippery concept. It will also make you think twice before writing your CV.
'It is exciting to see a philosopher, rather than a psychologist, wrestle with the concept of personality' - Paul Crichton, Times Literary Supplement
'Goldie writes in warmly accessible fashion.' - Steven Poole, The Guardian
'Three of the first batch deserve high praise: On Immigration and Refugees, by the great logician (and campaigner for racial equality) Michael Dummett; On Belief, by that master of postmodern paradox, Slavoj Zizek; and On the Internet by Hubert L Dreyfus.' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
'This is clearly an important series. I look forward to reading future volumes.' - Frank Kermode, author of Shakespeare's Language
'Both rigorous and accessible.' - Humanist News
'The series looks superb.' - Quentin Skinner
'An excellent and beautiful series.' - Ben Rogers, author of A.J.Ayer: A Life
"Routledge's Thinking in Action series is the theory junkie's answer to the eminently pocketable Penguin 60s series.' - Mute Magazine
'Routledge's new series, Thinking in Action, brings philosophers to our aid.' - The Evening Standard
'A welcome new series by Routledge.' - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society
Thinking in Action is a major series that takes philosophy to its public. Each book in the series is written by a major international philosopher or thinker, engages with an important contemporary topic, and is clearly and accessibly written. The series informs and sharpens debate on topics as wide ranging as the internet, religion, the problem of immigration and refugees and the way we think about science. Punchy, short, and stimulating, Thinking in Action is an indispensable series of books for anyone who wants to think seriously about major issues confronting us today.
Edited by Simon Critchley, New School University, USA and Richard Kearney, Boston College, USA