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Martha Nussbaum

Moment (a magazine founded by Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and Jewish activist Leonard Fein) calls her "the Philosopher Queen" and adds:

Bold and unapologetic, the marathon-running, opera-loving public intellectual has weighed in on everything from aging to the nature of evil. Her goal? To make philosophy useful in our day-to-day lives.

Martha Nussbaum taught philosophy and classics at Harvard in the 1970s and early 1980s, where she was denied tenure by the Classics Department in 1982. Nussbaum then moved to Brown University, where she taught until 1994 when she joined the University of Chicago Law School faculty. Her 1986 book The Fragility of Goodness, on ancient Greek ethics and Greek tragedy, made her a well-known figure throughout the humanities. A more recent work, Frontiers of Justice, has established her as a theorist of global justice.

The Fragility of Goodness (2001) is a book described by Wikipedia as confronting the ethical dilemma that individuals strongly committed to justice might face that "may deeply compromise or even negate their human flourishing." Discussing literary as well as philosophical texts, Nussbaum seeks to determine the extent to which reason may enable self-sufficiency." Wikipedia:

She eventually rejects the Platonic notion that human goodness can fully protect against peril, siding with the tragic playwrights and Aristotle in treating the acknowledgment of vulnerability as a key to realizing the human good.

A customer at Amazon.com writes:

In this book, Ms. Nussbaum takes on one of the most challenging and heart-rending questions raised by the ancient poets and philosophers: what is the relationship between goodness (good character, right action) and having a good life (happiness, human flourishing)?

In her book Hiding from Humanity, Nussbaum probes arguments for including shame and disgust as legitimate bases for legal judgments. Wikipedia:

Nussbaum argues that individuals tend to repudiate their bodily imperfection or animality through the projection of fears about contamination. This cognitive response is in itself irrational, because we cannot transcend the animality of our bodies. Noting how projective disgust has wrongly justified group subordination (mainly of women, Jews, and homosexuals), Nussbaum ultimately discards disgust as a reliable basis of judgment.

In her 2010 book From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law Martha Nussbaum, according to Wikipedia,

... analyzes the role that disgust plays in law and public debate in the United States.[49] The book primarily analyzes constitutional legal issues facing gay and lesbian Americans but also analyzes issues such as anti-miscegenation statutes, segregation, antisemitism and the caste system in India as part of its broader thesis regarding the "politics of disgust".

In her 2012 book Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Nussbaum is said to make "a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education."

Nussbaum is a convert to Judaism.

About her differences with others, Wikipedia writes:

Nussbaum has criticized Noam Chomsky as being among the leftist intellectuals who hold the belief that "one should not criticize one’s friends, that solidarity is more important than ethical correctness". She suggests that one can "trace this line to an old Marxist contempt for bourgeois ethics, but it is loathsome whatever its provenance".[15] Among the people whose books she has reviewed critically are Alan Bloom, Harvey Mansfield,[17] and Judith Butler.[18] Her more serious and academic debates have been with figures such as John Rawls, Richard Posner, and Susan Moller Okin.


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Copyright © 2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.

 

 

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