Dalrymple reviews “On Kindness” by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor and finds it wanting:
There is no doubt, I think, that we have difficulty with the notion of kindness nowadays. Kindness is apt to be capricious; the deserving may be excluded from it while the undeserving may be smothered in or by it. It easily turns syrupy; or alternatively may become a weapon in the hands of the passive-aggressive, to establish their power over others. It is hard to legislate for kindness, and we live increasingly in a world where what is not required by law is not required by anything else.
There was therefore scope for a short book on kindness: it is a subject that soon leads to profound questions of moral and political philosophy. This book, alas, is not the book required.