Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (The Public Square)

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9780691154480: Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (The Public Square)

In 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 been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens. But recently, Nussbaum argues, thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry in the United States and abroad. 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.

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From the Inside Flap:


"Martha Nussbaum is the most erudite and visionary scholar writing on higher education today. Once again, she has laid out a novel and compelling argument with all of the clarity and rigor we expect from her writing. Not for Profit reminds us all that the deeper purposes of liberal education go well beyond personal advancement or national competitiveness. The real project is to educate responsible global citizens who will champion democracy and human development, and who have the skills to collaborate across differences and borders to solve pressing global problems."--Grant H. Cornwell, president of the College of Wooster


"This book could not be more timely nor more on target. Martha Nussbaum argues that education has become increasingly utilitarian, market-driven, career-oriented, and impoverished in its attention to the arts and humanities. The arts and humanities don't necessarily make people humane and creative, but they are, Nussbaum argues, required for Socratic examination and self-examination. If we agree with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living, then we need Nussbaum's argument."--Peter Brooks, Princeton University


"This is an important book and a superb piece of writing, combining passionate enthusiasm with calm arguments and informative examples. Written with a lovely light touch, it introduces the reader to the much misunderstood history of progressive education and shows its contemporary relevance."--Harry Brighouse, University of Wisconsin-Madison


About the Author:

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago. She is the author of many books, including Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (Princeton).

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Nussbaum, Martha C.
Editorial: Princeton University Press (2012)
ISBN 10: 0691154481 ISBN 13: 9780691154480
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