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Series: The Art of Living
Author(s): Colin Feltham  
ISBN: 1844655237
ISBN-13: 9781844655236
Publication Date: 05 Jul 2012
Pages: 160 (216 x 138 mm)
Format: Paperback
Published Price: £10.99
Discount Price: £8.79
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Failure, success’s ugly sister, is inevitable – cognitively, biologically and morally. We all make mistakes, we all die, and we all get it wrong. A chain of flaws can be traced through all phenomena, natural and human. We see impending and actual failures in individual lives, in marriages, careers, in religion, education, psychotherapy, business, nations, and in entire civilizations. And there are chronic and imperceptible failures in everyday domains that most of the time we barely notice, often until it is too late.

Colin Feltham expores what constitutes failure across a number of domains. He takes guidance from the work of such diverse philosophers and thinkers as Diogenes, Epictetus, Augustine, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Cioran and Ricoeur, while also drawing on the insights of artists and writers such as van Gogh, Arthur Miller, Philip Larkin, Samuel Beckett, Charles Bukowski and Philip Roth. Precursors and partial synonyms for failure can be seen in the concepts of hamartia, sin, fallenness, non-being, false consciousness and anthropathology. Philosophy can help us but is itself, in its reliance on language and logic, subject to inherent flaws and failures. It is the very pervasiveness yet common denial of failure which makes it a compelling topic that cries out for honest analysis.

We live in a time when the cliché of failed Marxism may be segueing frighteningly (for some) into the failure of ‘selfish capitalism’, in a time of geopolitical uncertainty and failure to address the dire need for agreement and action on climate change. But many of us are also painfully aware of our own shortcomings, our own weakness of will and lack of authenticity. Trying to identify where the lines may be drawn between individual responsibility, social policy, and historical and biological dark forces is a key challenge in this fascinating book.

"This is not a book to read if you are prone to self-pity, or want a reason not to bother. It would not, I imagine, be high on the biblio-therapy lists for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy patients! But if you want to immerse yourself in an erudite and exceedingly well-written treatise by a man who seems to be essentially compassionate about his world and the other people who have tried to understand its vagaries and its occasional cruelties, I can recommend it." – The Psychologist

"An intriguing but exasperating counterpoint to the plethora of commentaries on success, happiness, wellbeing, and all things psychologically positive that litter the media and bookshelves." – Therapy Today

Colin Feltham is Emeritus Professor of Critical Counselling Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. He has written over twenty books including, most recently, What's Wrong with Us? (2007) and Critical Thinking in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2010).

1. Origins, meanings and nuances of failure
2. Failure across the lifespan
3. Collective human folly, sin and error
4. The tragic arts
5. Being a failure
6. Learning from failure
Further reading