"Saving one's face", "performing an about-face", "to be double-faced", "putting on a brave face", "facing the music", "having a poker face", "keeping a straight face" This book, in a new edition, is largely dedicated to similar phrases and addresses a set of problems concerning everyday experience: why is "face", i.e., the image that each of us offers to others, so important? Why are we concerned with presenting a "good" face, that is, enjoying a favourable reputation? Why does failure to achieve this goal give way to painful feelings? The hypothesis explored in this text is that our constant, strenuous efforts to conserve or improve our face is instrumental in developing skills needed for achieving our goals through other people. The volume describes the relationship between appearance and power and unveils the nature of self-love and the "mental states" that lie at the heart of utterly social emotions such as envy, shame, embarrassment, and contempt. Forced to re-interpret ordinary situations and behaviours, the reader is encouraged to examine his/her cultural and social skills.
Cristiano Castelfranchi heads the Institute for Cognitive Science and Technology of Italy's National Research Council and teaches Cognitive Science in the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at the University of Siena.