The pleasures of kindness have been well known since the dawn of western thought. Kindness, declared Marcus Aurelius, was mankind’s ‘greatest delight’ – and centuries-worth of thinkers and writers have echoed him. But today many people seem to find these pleasures literally incredible. Instead of embracing the benefits of altruism, as a species we seem to be becoming deeply and fundamentally antagonistic to each other, with motives that are generally self-seeking. This book explains how and why this has come about, and argues that the affectionate life – a life lived in instinctive sympathetic identification with the vulnerabilities and attractions of others – is the one we should all be inclined to live. ‘We mutually belong to one another,’ as the philosopher Alan Ryan writes, and the good life is one ‘that reflects this truth’. What the Victorians called ‘open-heartedness’ and the Christians ‘caritas’ remains essential to our emotional and mental health, for reasons both obvious and hidden, argue the authors of this elegant and indispensable exploration of the concept of kindness.