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Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education

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How can higher education today create a community of critical thinkers and searchers for truth that transcends the boundaries of class, gender, and nation? Martha C. Nussbaum, philosopher and classicist, argues that contemporary curricular reform is already producing such 'citizens of the world' in its advocacy of diverse forms of cross-cultural studies. Drawing on Socrate How can higher education today create a community of critical thinkers and searchers for truth that transcends the boundaries of class, gender, and nation? Martha C. Nussbaum, philosopher and classicist, argues that contemporary curricular reform is already producing such 'citizens of the world' in its advocacy of diverse forms of cross-cultural studies. Drawing on Socrates and the Stoics, Nussbaum establishes three core values of liberal education -- critical self-examination, the ideal of the world citizen, and the development of the narrative imagination. Then, taking us into classrooms and campuses across the nation, including prominent research universities, small independent colleges, and religious institutions, she shows how these values are (and in some instances are not) being embodied in particular courses. She defends such burgeoning subject areas as gender, minority, and gay studies against charges of moral relativism and low standards, and underscores their dynamic and fundamental contribution to critical reasoning and world citizenship.

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How can higher education today create a community of critical thinkers and searchers for truth that transcends the boundaries of class, gender, and nation? Martha C. Nussbaum, philosopher and classicist, argues that contemporary curricular reform is already producing such 'citizens of the world' in its advocacy of diverse forms of cross-cultural studies. Drawing on Socrate How can higher education today create a community of critical thinkers and searchers for truth that transcends the boundaries of class, gender, and nation? Martha C. Nussbaum, philosopher and classicist, argues that contemporary curricular reform is already producing such 'citizens of the world' in its advocacy of diverse forms of cross-cultural studies. Drawing on Socrates and the Stoics, Nussbaum establishes three core values of liberal education -- critical self-examination, the ideal of the world citizen, and the development of the narrative imagination. Then, taking us into classrooms and campuses across the nation, including prominent research universities, small independent colleges, and religious institutions, she shows how these values are (and in some instances are not) being embodied in particular courses. She defends such burgeoning subject areas as gender, minority, and gay studies against charges of moral relativism and low standards, and underscores their dynamic and fundamental contribution to critical reasoning and world citizenship.

30 review for Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I'm not enough of a scholar to evaluate Nussbaums's treatment of "The Clouds" or Rousseau (are you?) but her treatment of the major topics is thought provoking -- and thus the book is well worth reading. The only significant flaws I stumbled upon were her dismissal of the paradox of democratic change, and of the objections of ideology. The former: when is a minority (perhaps 'elite') position a legitimate corrective/adjustment to a democracy, and when is it an extremist and illegitimate distractio I'm not enough of a scholar to evaluate Nussbaums's treatment of "The Clouds" or Rousseau (are you?) but her treatment of the major topics is thought provoking -- and thus the book is well worth reading. The only significant flaws I stumbled upon were her dismissal of the paradox of democratic change, and of the objections of ideology. The former: when is a minority (perhaps 'elite') position a legitimate corrective/adjustment to a democracy, and when is it an extremist and illegitimate distraction? The astonishing fact is that the problem in distinguishing one from the other interferes greatly with Nussbaum's laudatory depictions of "diversity" education, without providing even a hint of the underlying dilemma. For instance, arguments against racial bigotry are implicitly conflated, in Nussbaum's book, with arguments against homosexuality. Personally, I agree with this... but how is a democracy to arrive at such a conclusion? Any controversy must, inevitably, be advocated at first by a minority. When is such a minority to be granted the academic privilege (as Gender Studies have, in todays University) and when not (as the 'pro-life' or 'creationist' perspectives)? Nussbaum completely ignores the problem, treating the liberal perspective as the only rational one. This is related to the latter problematique: sometime a "received" doctrine discerns a threat in the argument for "diversity". To a liberal, this perspective seems absurd. But where is the line to be drawn? If an alien culture (or domestic minority) were to advocate something extreme -- perhaps human sacrifice or infant euthanasia? How are 'believers' to discern which moral positions are too extreme to be defended (bias against miscegenation; homosexual behavior) and which are defensible? (suttee? abortion?) Nussbaum provides no guidance; nor -- more importantly -- does she elaborate on how the academy is to respond to questions regarding such a delineation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    “There is no greater threat to democracy than the unreflective, assertive citizen.” Martha Nussbaum’s Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education is an inspiring guide to how to teach the liberal arts in a way that promotes critical reflection and stimulates sympathy for others. Nussbaum surveys various programs and profiles numerous educators to assess the state of Culture Studies in America. The results are mixed. Anyone teaching Culture Studies, whether in a formal “There is no greater threat to democracy than the unreflective, assertive citizen.” Martha Nussbaum’s Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education is an inspiring guide to how to teach the liberal arts in a way that promotes critical reflection and stimulates sympathy for others. Nussbaum surveys various programs and profiles numerous educators to assess the state of Culture Studies in America. The results are mixed. Anyone teaching Culture Studies, whether in a formal program or simply as an integrated component of their existing curriculum, should carefully study Nussbaum’s findings and consider integrating her suggestions for improving their pedagogy into their curriculum. Many universities and colleges have initiated programs to promote a more diverse curriculum on their campuses; however, Nussbaum shows that their success (measured by student development of their critical and emotional faculties) is dependent on whether they are grounded on a world-citizen view or an identity-politics view. An identity-politics view sees the polis as a “marketplace of identity-based interest groups jockeying for power, and views difference as something to be affirmed rather than understood” (110). On the other hand, the world-citizen view aims for students to transcend differences via communication and dialogue and deliberation in a democratic process which promotes a more just and equal society (110). Identity politics under the guise of “multiculturalism” can be an anti-humanist view, especially when it asserts that “only female writers understand the experience of women” (111); or, that only Black writers understand the experience of Black people. Nussbaum refutes this notion by appealing to our common sense experience of simply being human and our capacity to imagine ourselves as other. Her citing of Ralph Ellison’s self-proclaimed purpose of writing Invisible Man as being to reveal the human universals within a black American is particularly persuasive (110). Nussbaum proceeds to identify the most common errors in Culture Studies programs: chauvinism, romanticism, normative chauvinism, and normative Arcadianism. Chauvinism occurs when one fails to appreciate the differences between one’s own culture and the culture under investigation. However, when one focuses exclusively on the differences between one’s own culture and another’s, you are committing the error of romanticism. Normative chauvinism occurs when you use your own culture as the standard, the “norm”, by which you evaluate other cultures. Finally, normative Arcadianism is viewing another culture as mystical, markedly spiritual, and pastoral. This particular error most frequently occurs when an investigator focuses on the culture’s past instead of present. Cultures are plural and have a present as well as a past (127-8). A good example of how to do Culture Studies right is Daniel Bonevac’s Beyond the Western Tradition: Readings in Moral and Political Philosophy; Derrida’s discussion of Chinese culture is an example of the wrong way (see Zhang Longxi’s critique of Derrida). Other examples include Herodotus’ Histories, the right way; Tacitus’ Germania, the wrong way. How do we do Culture Studies right? Focus on human problems. Examine how different cultures deal with our shared problems, and then critically evaluate their respective effectiveness. Narrative prose is a particularly fecund way to examine our shared human condition. It bridges the gap between self and other: “By inviting the spectator to identify with the tragic hero, at the same time portraying the hero as a relatively good person, whose distress does not stem from deliberate wickedness, the drama makes compassion for suffering seize the imagination” (93). “The artistic form makes its spectator perceive, for a time, the invisible people of their world—at least a beginning of social justice” (94). For example, in the chauvinistic and misogynistic culture of classical Greece, the male “is brought up against the fact that people [barbarian women, for instance] as articulate and able as he face disaster and shame in some ways that males do not; and he is asked to think of that as something relevant to himself” (94). Of course, not all narratives are equal. Wayne C. Booth points out in his brilliant work The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, the necessity of asking: “How does the text invite us to view our fellow human beings; with cheap cynicism and disdain, cheap sensationalistic pleasure that debases human dignity, or with ‘respect for the soul’” (100). Nussbaum’s conclusion that “sympathetic and critical reading should go hand in hand” is an opinion that I fully endorse. George Eliot, my favorite author, defines morality as “a delicate sense of one’s neighbor’s rights, an active participation in the joys and sorrows of our fellows, a magnanimous acceptance of privation or suffering for ourselves when it is the condition of good for others—in a word, the extension and intensification of our sympathetic nature.” Reading, if practiced with acuity, enlarges the soul.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Nussbaum's wish for liberal arts in education is that Cosmopolitanism be injected to replace Nationalism in the present phase of liberal education in Western civilization. Yet there is something suspect about her brand of Cosmopolitanism. It is not the benign sort Kwame Appiah, but feels more like the sort of Cosmopolitanism that should be analyzed and updated version of Edward Said's Orientalism. Nussbaum uses the subtle language of Western Imperialism to explain how the triumph of Western Civi Nussbaum's wish for liberal arts in education is that Cosmopolitanism be injected to replace Nationalism in the present phase of liberal education in Western civilization. Yet there is something suspect about her brand of Cosmopolitanism. It is not the benign sort Kwame Appiah, but feels more like the sort of Cosmopolitanism that should be analyzed and updated version of Edward Said's Orientalism. Nussbaum uses the subtle language of Western Imperialism to explain how the triumph of Western Civilization should be a compassionate, imaginative triumph with a sensitive understanding of the "others". It is akin to the the type of animal rights advocacy that calls for bigger, nicer cages at the zoo. This book should be read in contrast with "Is Science Multi-Cultural?" by Susan Harding and anything by Homi Bhabha in order to better understand how Nussbaum has got it wrong.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    This is a terrific book that accomplishes something rare: It argues in favor of both a fairly classical education and a strongly multicultural education *at the same time*. Nussbaum's aeguments are sharp and even handed (even if she is too harsh on Derrida), and she is able to sound reasonable and caring too. This in itself is a fine representation of her thought because she is always able to bring both thought and heart to her philosophy and when she does, she shows how we need both to fully un This is a terrific book that accomplishes something rare: It argues in favor of both a fairly classical education and a strongly multicultural education *at the same time*. Nussbaum's aeguments are sharp and even handed (even if she is too harsh on Derrida), and she is able to sound reasonable and caring too. This in itself is a fine representation of her thought because she is always able to bring both thought and heart to her philosophy and when she does, she shows how we need both to fully understand and act in the world.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    ILL c1997 maaybe I can buy this now???? also read ch 6 women's studies http://www.bookrags.com/research/nuss... Martha Nussbaum has contributed to ethics, political theory, classics, philosophy of mind, legal theory, educational theory, public policy, and gender studies. Educated at New York University (BA, 1969) and Harvard University (MA, 1971; PhD, 1975), she has taught at Harvard, Brown University, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago. Nussbaum's work ranges widely, but she has consi ILL c1997 maaybe I can buy this now???? also read ch 6 women's studies http://www.bookrags.com/research/nuss... Martha Nussbaum has contributed to ethics, political theory, classics, philosophy of mind, legal theory, educational theory, public policy, and gender studies. Educated at New York University (BA, 1969) and Harvard University (MA, 1971; PhD, 1975), she has taught at Harvard, Brown University, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago. Nussbaum's work ranges widely, but she has consistently returned to such themes as: the nature of emotion and its role in philosophical argument, the extension and application of the "capabilities approach" in the theory of justice, the role of philosophical argument and reflection in the public sphere, and the relationship between philosophy and art and literature. Her work can be helpfully characterized as a sustained critique of Platonism. The Fragility of Goodness (1986), her first major book, argued that the Platonic view of the good life marks "an aspiration to rational self-sufficiency through the 'trapping' and 'binding' of unreliable features of the world." Such self-sufficiency omits "a kind of human worth that is inseparable from vulnerability, an excellence that is in its nature other-related and social, a rationality whose nature it is not to attempt to seize, hold, trap, and control, in whose values openness, receptivity, and wonder play an important part" (pp. 19–20). Nussbaum has consistently defended the latter. Against the Platonic-Christian view that transcendent Good or God is at the heart of morality, she advances her own comprehensive, Aristotelian-Kantian-Jewish view that religion highlights the largely autonomous, primary domain of human moral effort. The highest moral paradigms are not such figures as the saints or Gandhi, but those who, like Nehru, found the good life in human finitude and limitation. For Nussbaum, rigorist or ascetic moralism, whether in Gandhi or Plato, betrays a violence toward the self that may undermine morality and compassion. Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (2001) develops the moral psychology that figures in Nussbaum's ethical and political work. The Platonic ascent of love is criticized for having the lover climb to such heights as to be beyond compassion and human need, beyond even altruistic contact with actual human beings. Christian and Romantic views fail in the same way, and can reinforce developmental tendencies positively inimical to morality—childhood emotions of shame, disgust, and envy. Nussbaum works out a highly qualified "neo-Stoic" view of the emotions, according to which "once one has formed attachments to unstable things not fully under one's control, once one has made these part of one's notion of one's flourishing, one has emotions of a background kind toward them—on my view, judgments that acknowledge their enormous worth—that persist in the fabric of one's life, and are crucial to the explanation of one's actions" (p. 71). Thus, emotions are a type of evaluative judgment, construed in a way broad enough to allow that nonhuman animals and infants, who lack propositional thought, can also be said to have emotions. And they have a narrative structure, found in one's life history. Acknowledging one's neediness, however, and representing the world from the personal point of view and with considerable ambivalence, the emotions so characterized pose problems for moral and political theories stressing mutual respect, dignity, and concern for others. Nussbaum's account of such emotions as compassion, shame, and disgust, which also receive extended treatment in her Hiding from Humanity (2004), is vital for understanding her political philosophy, which draws heavily on Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, John Rawls, and Amartya Sen. She defends a broadly Rawlsian political liberalism that frames an account of human flourishing adapted to the demands of liberal political theory, respecting the reasonable plurality of views of the good life to be found in the modern world. Her collaboration with Sen, beginning with The Quality of Life (1993), has yielded a critique of conventional economic measures of human welfare and pointed up the virtues of instead measuring people's capabilities, what they are capable of doing or being across central areas of human life. Her aim has been to bring her Aristotelianism into harmony with the capabilities approach, adapted to serve as a form of political liberalism that could also undergird the type of universalistic critique required by feminism. Nussbaum's development of the capabilities approach in connection with feminism has led her to introduce more Kantian and Millian elements into her arguments and to emphasize the recognition of human dignity as a core feature of political liberalism. Sex and Social Justice (1999) and Women and Human Development (2000) develop the capabilities theory as the philosophical groundwork for basic constitutional standards, applicable to all governments, defining the minimal requirements of respect for human dignity. These works provide a highly developed account of the central human capabilities—life, bodily health, bodily integrity, senses, imagination and thought, emotions, practical reason, affiliation, concern for nature and other species, play, and political and material control over one's environment—and articulate the political liberal demand that all citizens must, as a requirement of justice, enjoy a basic threshold level of each of these capabilities. Her focus on the injustices confronting women, gays, and lesbians, and others suffering from insidious forms of oppression, has widened to cover problems of international justice and justice with respect to nonhuman animals. Nussbaum has also paid special attention to education. Cultivating Humanity (1997) argues for an education (inspired by Plato's earlier, truly Socratic dialogues) that would awaken students to self-scrutiny and to their capabilities for love and imagination. Promoting a greater role for such philosophical reflection in public life has been one of Nussbaum's chief priorities. See Also Aristotelianism; Aristotle; Feminism and the History of Philosophy; Feminist Philosophy; Justice; Kant, Immanuel; Marx, Karl; Mill, John Stuart; Plato; Platonism and the Platonic Tradition; Rawls, John; Sen, Amartya K.; Women in the History of Philosophy. Bibliography Works by Martha Nussbaum The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986. The Quality of Life, edited by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997. Sex and Social Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004. Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Works About Martha Nussbaum Goodin, R., and D. Parker, eds. "Symposium on Martha Nussbaum's Political Philosophy." Ethics 111 (October 2000). Comprehensive essays by L. Antony, R. Arneson, H. Charlesworth, and R. Mulgan, with responses by Nussbaum.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The basis of this book is that democracy relies upon developing "citizens of the world" who ask questions about their beliefs and traditions and try to learn as much as possible about other cultures and people different from themselves, in a critical but respectful manner. The author, Nussbaum, focuses on courses and programs about women, non-Western cultures, and homosexuals in various colleges across the U.S. as case studies and devotes a chapter to two religious universities' attempts at prov The basis of this book is that democracy relies upon developing "citizens of the world" who ask questions about their beliefs and traditions and try to learn as much as possible about other cultures and people different from themselves, in a critical but respectful manner. The author, Nussbaum, focuses on courses and programs about women, non-Western cultures, and homosexuals in various colleges across the U.S. as case studies and devotes a chapter to two religious universities' attempts at providing a Socratic education while maintaining religious cohesion. Nussbaum is an academic with training in philosophy and the classics. It makes sense that an author will try to write from what they know best, so I can understand why she would feel the urge to focus on the importance of philosophy in a college education. But that urge should have been dampened somewhat so that readers weren't left with the impression – which Nussbaum doesn't bother correcting – that philosophy is the single most important and valuable field for fostering critical thinking skills in college students. I agree that it is one important and valuable field for doing this, but I think Nussbaum's own allegiance to her discipline was biasing her judgment. The important thing to note is that the subject matter of the class doesn't matter as much as the pedagogy and thought process of both the instructor and the students. You can teach a philosophy course critically or uncritically, and you can teach a history class critically or uncritically. Nussbaum assigns to philosophy a privileged position and only pays mere lip service to the other humanities disciplines, which gives short shrift to work being done in other fields (it's not clear how much she actually knows about what's really going on in fields outside her own domain, aside from what her research assistants gathered during their surveying). Nussbaum does emphasize that it's more important to teach students how to inquire than what to inquire about – which takes some of the pressure off of content and puts more on the learning process itself – but she's working under the assumption that philosophy is better-equipped to do this than any other discipline, and that assumption needed to be debated more openly. Another issue I found problematic was Nussbaum's tone and approach to argumentation throughout the whole book, but especially in the chapter on the religious universities Notre Dame and Brigham Young. Given her repeated mantra about thinking critically and not shying away from controversial subjects, I expected the book to contain more controversial positions. While she does say a few mildly negative things about the universities – most notably for stifling academic freedom and squelching open inquiry – she expresses these negative assessments in a polite, discreet way and doesn't seem nearly as outraged as someone with her views should justifiably feel, and I can't help but think that this is because she's an apologist for religion. This is ironic because Nussbaum is very determined to convince her readers that everyone has the right to express diverse, dissenting views and that classrooms should be a place of debate and argument; yet her own claims and expressions of "dissent" about religious universities are often bland and toothless. There is something to be said for not wanting to alienate a general audience, but there is also something to be said for making claims that will galvanize a general audience into discussion, which I don't think this book is capable of doing (I'm not even sure anyone besides professors and educational nerds would even read this book). Nussbaum makes it clear from the beginning of the chapter on Notre Dame and Brigham Young that she is not anti-religious (she is a practicing Jew and gave her daughter an explicitly religious education), which to me felt like her apologizing in advance for criticizing religious institutions. In what I can only assume was an effort to be diplomatic, she balances nearly every negative assessment throughout the chapter with a positive one ("They routinely fire professors for expressing views out of line with church dogma, but they have a new women's center on campus!") or expresses a hope that the university in question will eventually do better and be able to "reach its full potential." This makes the assumption that these universities even have the potential to be places of Socratic inquiry at all, which is not an assumption I'm willing to grant, at least not without some discussion. By declining to make a general judgment about the compatibility of Socratic inquiry with religious dogma, Nussbaum leads the reader to believe that as long as a few minor reforms are enacted from within a religious university – a required course in philosophy or an offering on women's studies, for example – religious schools can go on to do great things and be just as good as secular institutions. She seems to think that the marginalization of women at Notre Dame and the harsh limitations on freedom of speech at Brigham Young are mere surface imperfections that can be cleaned away with a few discussion panels and new course offerings focusing on minority groups. But I instead see these problems as symptoms of a deeply bigoted, ignorant community willfully ignoring the variety of human experience, and as long as people sharing that ignorance are all gathered together in one setting and defining themselves above all else as adherents of a specific religion (rather than first and foremost as students and scholars), any attempt at educational reform will be unsuccessful or will at most lead to mere cosmetic changes that the university can then pat itself on the back for. The only result of offering women's studies courses on a deeply sexist campus will be to whitewash the PR image of the university and allow them to say that they offer a "diverse" selection of courses. The homogeneity and conformity required of the student body at a religious university is so powerful that no such institution can give their students an education worthy of the Socratic tradition. That is the kind of claim I wanted to see Nussbaum defend, but for whatever reason she was reluctant to go that far. Interestingly, Nussbaum has a new book out called Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, which as far as I can tell takes the same exact premise of Cultivating Humanity and goes over the same argument yet again (although hopefully updated a little for the 21st century). Given Nussbaum's penchant for repeating herself throughout Cultivating Humanity, I'm not hopeful that this new book will actually be "new" in any meaningful sense.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matteo

    Stylo gravi she takes a neo-Senecan approach to affirming the aims of what used to be called Literae Humaniores.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cop Deb

    Interesante libro, aunque se nota debilidad en el manejo de los temas de género y diversidad sexual. No es tan fuerte como la primera parte

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This was an excellent book. Nussbaum writes and thinks clearly, and unlike most popular writers on the topic of higher education, has actually gone to some effort to find out what other academics are up to. In an era of almost unprecedented cynicism about universities—and particularly their humanities departments—this book is a welcome tonic. Nussbaum's faith in the ideal of liberal education is infectious. She shares Newman's strong thesis about university education, that its purpose is to insti This was an excellent book. Nussbaum writes and thinks clearly, and unlike most popular writers on the topic of higher education, has actually gone to some effort to find out what other academics are up to. In an era of almost unprecedented cynicism about universities—and particularly their humanities departments—this book is a welcome tonic. Nussbaum's faith in the ideal of liberal education is infectious. She shares Newman's strong thesis about university education, that its purpose is to instil "Socratic" values of free inquiry in its students. Her own great faith in the importance of reasoning and self-scrutiny makes this an extremely even-handed book. Her main opponents are conservative thinkers who decry liberal education altogether, and she also makes frequent attacks on "postmodernists" and "English departments" whose "faddish" theories undermine the spirit of free inquiry. But she nonetheless treats these opponents with respect, and makes a serious effort to understand and respond to their criticisms of her own ideal of rational inquiry. Perhaps book's greatest strength is its use of case studies. To find out how liberal education takes place in America, she actually visited a range of other universities of different types, spoke with faculty, inspected curricula, sat in on classes and researched each institution's history and traditions. Her final chapter, comparing Notre Dame to Brigham Young, was particularly impressive for its broad-minded, morally engaged and extremely rational analysis. Most famous books on the subject of higher education are mindless screeds of barely-researched partisan prejudice. This one was refreshingly factual. For me, this book had two flaws, one major and one minor. The minor flaw is that Nussbaum, a professional philosopher, has the idea that philosophy is the most important discipline of all, and that the "logic and rigour" of analytic philosophy is the benchmark for all rational argument. I have great sympathy with this view, and she does go to some lengths to justify it, but it does undercut her overall argument that the essence of liberal education is the way it exposes the student to a variety of viewpoints. Her association of "logic and rigour" with philosophy departments also does a disservice to other departments—particularly my own discipline of English, which often gets a hard rap in the book. The major flaw is simply that Nussbaum does not go deep enough into her philosophy. I perhaps would not have felt this was a flaw if I had not recently read Newman's The Idea of a University, to which Nussbaum's book is clearly indebted. Newman roots his notion of liberal education in a broader theory of knowledge and the disciplines. Like Nussbaum, he thinks his own discipline—theology—is the most important. But unlike her, he does not think that theological instruction should be compulsory, and he presents more compelling reasons to think that theology is supreme than she does that philosophy is supreme. If she had presented, with such depth and clarity as Newman, a theory of knowledge that underpinned her particular notion of education, I think this book's argument would have been well-nigh incontrovertible. As it is, it is merely excellent.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Xyst

    This book is largely a defense of the western tradition of faculty-centric education in the model of Socratic force of personality. Students in humanistic disciplines (her primary focus) can a) be brought to realization of ignorance with proper techniques of rational argumentation and then b) lead to knowledge with proper techniques of the natural sciences. (More Platonic and Aristotelean than Socratic but she stays focused on Socrates.) Especially illuminating is the chapter on narrative imagin This book is largely a defense of the western tradition of faculty-centric education in the model of Socratic force of personality. Students in humanistic disciplines (her primary focus) can a) be brought to realization of ignorance with proper techniques of rational argumentation and then b) lead to knowledge with proper techniques of the natural sciences. (More Platonic and Aristotelean than Socratic but she stays focused on Socrates.) Especially illuminating is the chapter on narrative imagination in which he seems to suggest that literature professors could benefit from studying how physics goes about making its arguments and drawing its conclusions. In taking this overall approach Nussbaum falls into the tradition of others who have tried to justify the humanities/ human sciences using the tools of the natural sciences. She must objectify the human experience with enough distance to identify universal facets of all peoples but in doing so she loses touch with the very historical details that make the study of other cultures fruitful and meaningful. She rightly wants to argue against ethnocentrism but ultimately cannot do so with any force because objectification ignores the ways in which cultures come to be what they are. She realizes that either/or thinking is too crude, especially in matters of culture, but is trapped by an epistemology that dichotomizes facts and values. For Nussbaum, to be properly educated, and thus properly human, is to be subject (in all senses) to the Kantian "demands of reason." Taken seriously this reinscribes a hierarchy of being that, especially since WWII, has become morally problematic in philosophy. She is left defending a position that seems increasingly out of touch. Disappointing that she can't seem to find her way out of this blind-alley, but it's not clear that she really tried. She off-handedly dismisses nearly all thinkers who call her assumptions into question as unworthy of consideration. That seems to fly in the face of the very Socratic virtue she's so strongly advocating, namely boundless questioning and the rejection of tradition that cloaks itself in a sense of inevitability. Indeed, she's more interested in defending academic philosophy as a viable concern for the contemporary university than on defending humanity as a complex and self-evident educational project.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Generally ok; I mostly skimmed and then read the last chapter because a friend had asked me about it a while back (Socrates and the Religious University). The chapter felt dated at this point, and the disparity in sources/experience (Nussbaum has better sources for Notre Dame than BYU) was a bit rough. Still, worth thinking about in terms of the ongoing debates surrounding academic freedom at religious universities.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    Forgot to mark I finished this. Eh, the book was alright. She repeats the same information a lot and a few times I just wanted to skip chapters because it was the same as a few pages before... but overall a pretty decent book... nothing ground breaking, but a good read for anyone. She made great points for more Women's Studies, African American studies, and various others, but nothing that at this point hasn't been said everyone else (the book is almost 2 decades old).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Derek Pyle

    very academic...lots of info, the info is very well supported (supported too much I might say) reading it for a class, we pull interesting stuff out of it in class but...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jun Jun

    Book for Tutorial Class

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nohea

    Read Chapter Eight: Socrates in the Religious University

  16. 4 out of 5

    Francisco

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stefania

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Eskilsson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tricia Barry

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pamela J

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  24. 5 out of 5

    The Lau Azure Door

  25. 4 out of 5

    JeanLeslie Baker

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie Greene

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matt Yates

  29. 4 out of 5

    Saira

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lyana Azan

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