Not for profit Why democracy needs the humanities

Martha Craven Nussbaum, 1947-

Book - 2010

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Series
Public square book series.
Public square (Princeton, N.J.)
Subjects
Published
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press c2010.
Language
English
Physical Description
xv, 158 p. ; 21 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780691140643
0691140642
Main Author
Martha Craven Nussbaum, 1947- (-)
  • The silent crisis
  • Education for profit, education for democracy
  • Educating citizens : the moral (and anti-moral) emotions
  • Socratic pedagogy : the importance of argument
  • Citizens of the world
  • Cultivating imagination : literature and the arts
  • Democratic education on the ropes.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Worries about the economy and the need to advance technology are threatening liberal arts education in the U.S. to the ultimate detriment of our democracy, laments philosopher Nussbaum. She explores the long history of emphasis on humanities in education in the U.S., exploring the influences of Horace Mann, Bronson Alcott, John Dewey, and others, including India's Rabindranath Tagore. She devotes a separate chapter to Socrates and his teachings that have figured prominently in developing a sense of citizenship in democracy; the connectedness of individuals; and the importance of the ability to question, analyze, and argue points of view. Nussbaum offers examples and case studies from the U.S. and India of the shift from the "human-development paradigm" to the "growth-oriented paradigm" and what nations are at risk of losing. She analyzes the role of the arts and humanities in developing language skills and encouraging curiosity about other cultures and sympathy for other individuals. This is a passionate call to action at a time when the nation is becoming more culturally diverse and universities are cutting back on humanities programs. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

A specialist in law and ethics, Nussbaum (Univ. of Chicago) works in several disciplines, among them philosophy, law, and religious studies. In this extended essay, she argues that the liberal arts are vital yet for the most part neglected in contemporary education. Governments, she writes, encourage education for economic growth, and schools teach children to value material gain rather than the common wealth and moral good that come through good citizenship based on intellectual inquiry. The author contends that this turn of events means the end of traditional liberal education as it has been received and articulated by proponents of a humanistic education. The problem with this book is that those who pick it up are likely predisposed to accept Nussbaum's arguments, but those whom she would most like to persuade will likely not find her appeals compelling. Nussbaum bases many of her arguments on analogy and example, and she offers especially two exemplars--Socrates and Tagore--as the epitome of the contemplative life she conceives as a desirable model for any educated person. Though many will challenge some of Nussbaum's claims, conclusions, and presuppositions, those same readers will agree with her in general. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. Copyright 2011 American Library Association.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A spirited if unremarkable defense of the value of a liberal arts education and of the humanities in general against the encroachment of economic growth–oriented paradigms on global learning practices. Distinguished philosopher Nussbaum (Hiding from Humanity) argues that education for profit has displaced education for citizenship, and with the sidelining of the humanities, critical thinking, empathy, and the understanding of injustice are neglected. Moving deftly between analysis and polemic, the author draws on education practices in India, experimental psychology, the works of such liberal education proponents as Dewey and Tagore to emphasize the importance of critical pedagogy for the development of individual responsibility, innovation, and self-examination. However, while Nussbaum admirably defends liberal humanitarian education, little in the book is new, and she is only moderately successful in pinpointing precisely how educational practices might be reformed or, more importantly, how decision makers might be convinced of the necessity of such reformation. Nonetheless, in advocating educational curriculums that recognize the worth of personal development and creative thought, this slim book is itself a small but decisive step in the effort to broaden and enrich current pedagogical practices. (June) [Page 104]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Philosopher Martha Nussbaum makes a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education. Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to reconnect education to the humanities in order to give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world"--Jacket.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A passionate defense of the humanities from one of today's foremost public intellectualsIn this short and powerful book, celebrated philosopher Martha Nussbaum makes a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education.Historically, the humanities have been central to education because they have rightly been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens. But recently, Nussbaum argues, thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry both in the United States and abroad. Anxiously focused on national economic growth, we increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills has eroded our ability to criticize authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems. And the loss of these basic capacities jeopardizes the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world.In response to this dire situation, Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to reconnect education to the humanities in order to give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world.Drawing on the stories of troubling—and hopeful—educational developments from around the world, Nussbaum offers a manifesto that should be a rallying cry for anyone who cares about the deepest purposes of education.