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Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (The Public Square)
 
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Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (The Public Square) [Formato Kindle]

Martha C. Nussbaum

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Descrizione prodotto

Sinossi

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.


Dettagli prodotto

  • Formato: Formato Kindle
  • Dimensioni file: 560 KB
  • Lunghezza stampa: 184
  • Editore: Princeton University Press (25 marzo 2012)
  • Venduto da: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Lingua: Inglese
  • ASIN: B0073X0JFI
  • Da testo a voce: Abilitato
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  • Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: #78.862 a pagamento nel Kindle Store (Visualizza i Top 100 a pagamento nella categoria Kindle Store)

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Amazon.com: 3.5 su 5 stelle  21 recensioni
131 di 140 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
2.0 su 5 stelle Disappointing 21 luglio 2010
Di J. Marlin - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida|Acquisto verificato
I was very much looking forward to this book as I have enjoyed and learned from Martha Nussbaum's writing in the past. Moreover, I strongly believe in the general thrust of this book -- that the humanities are being undervalued as our colleges and public schools become more and more career oriented. I teach humanities (English and Philosophy) myself, so I was predisposed to her thesis before I even picked it up.

But I found the argument to be mediocre at best; in fact, the whole book read like it was a journal article that had been stretched, padded, and embellished to meet the minimal page count to be credibly marketed as a book. There's also something of a dashed-off quality to the prose, lots of repetition from chapter to chapter along with loose sentences, incomplete thoughts, vagueness, and other signs of haste.

The book makes a decent case for critical thinking, but seems to lack that quality itself -- it unhesitatingly endorses the educational thinking of Rousseau, Dewey, and Tragore without critically engaging their thought or methods. Nussbaum argues that we need critical thinking in order to challenge traditions without seeming to be aware that she is simply making claims based on authorities that form a tradition, and, indeed, lots of educators and philosophers challenge these approaches. And she nowhere critically engages the possibility that some traditions might be valuable.

I am reminded that Mark Edmundson cogently observed that what passes for critical thinking these days is using methods of thought and vocabulary that one doesn't really believe to debunk world views one would rather not be challenged by. I fear that Nussbaum's approach to critical thinking would probably lead to that kind of superficiality.

Nussbaum's desire to mold students into "citizens of the world" whose perspective is global is, to me, naive idealism (and revealing of the political agenda behind her thinking). I'm all for students learning as much as they can about other cultures and political systems -- at least there we agree -- but there is no all-encompassing global perspective that can embrace, say, strict Sharia laws that force women into subservience and Western feminism (I could give a legion of other examples). Moreover, Nussbaum casually drops in the tired old trinity of "race, gender and class" enough to make me think that she would embrace crass West-bashing, such as we have seen in culture studies programs for decades now -- the kind that forgets that critical thinking is foundational to the Western tradition (indeed, she invokes Socrates at several junctures). (And please, I know that the West is not without fault, and that its faults should be exposed and corrected; but the West is not without virtue, and all too often those virtues are ignored or denigrated.)

I agree entirely that our students (and future workers, managers, leaders) need to be skilled at critical thinking and have educated imaginations, and I wholeheartedly endorse the book's title and theme: "Not for Profit." Among the great things about the humanities is that they help us to live complete and meaningful lives and to see things from other perspectives beyond that of "how is this going to make me money." In fact, I like to joke with my students that the great benefit of a humanities degree is that I can B.S. myself into believing I am happier with my pittance of a salary than I would be as a millionaire tycoon.

I simply don't think this book is worthy of Martha Nussbaum's powers as a thinker and a writer. She's better than this, and I expect she'll prove that on her next outing.
43 di 50 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
2.0 su 5 stelle Surprised and unconvinced 30 luglio 2010
Di J. Chan - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida
Nussbaum calls her book 'a manifesto'. Her manifesto on why democracy needs the humanities is made up of 6 interlocking propositions: (1) there is a crisis going on in education today; (2) this crisis is the shedding away of the humanities, which produce the necessary espirit de corps and competencies for an active and productive democracy; (3) this shedding away of the humanities can be attributed to the growth-oriented economy, which prefers professional skill-ism rather than the critical thinking skills and the imaginative empathy cultivated by the humanities; (4) at the same time, events in the world today are heading in the direction where more international cooperation and collaboration is needed, which must surely demand critical thinking and imaginative empathy for cross-cultural work; (5) however, we are heading in the opposite direction through our present attention on standardized testing and technically oriented education directives, which produce "useful machines" (pp. 2) but not imaginative and empathetic human beings; (6) hence, not only do we ultimately undermine our own cherished democracy, but ultimately too we undermine the solidarity needed for a universal democracy that can solve universal problems affecting all.

To be fair, we will have to take Nussbaum's argument one step deeper: that societies, and hence to a certain extent also publicly funded universities in many places, prefer practical skill-ism rather than the humanities. Since the growth-oriented economy requires skillful workers who can obey and work rather than to question and think, classes oriented to imparting practical or applied skills are much more favored by policy-makers, bosses, parents and students alike--because everyone in this squarish ecology seemed well-pleased. However, even growth demands people who possess the abilities to think and imagine creatively, and the humanities can help to cultivate that. Therefore, it is according to Nussbaum, never an 'either/or' for or against the humanities; rather, we can have both growth and the humanities. As a matter of her opinion, to have growth we ought to invest and grow the humanities.

I leave you to ponder on Nussbaum's surprising acquiescence. But the strangeness of this acquiescence to incorporate the humanities into the growth-oriented economy is surely, and only, because of Nussbaum's paradoxical nullification of the very thing she sought to defend in this book: how is it possible to defend the humanities by deliberately subjecting, and designing the humanities so that it can support growth (i.e., economically oriented growth laced with many externalities)? Thankfully Nussbaum's did not say how, beyond these hints, and to what extent this can be done. But at least one thing is clear: the kind of growth Nussbaum criticizes is also the kind of growth that bears no special allegiance to anything or anyone; as long as something expands the economy in the short-term, this something is valued. Thus to expect growth to value the humanities because the humanities seem to impart valuable fundamental and hence, somewhat long-term competencies with uncertain outcome is naive at best.

And half expecting this book to fulfill its large graphical and title promise on the critique of the for profit system (i.e., "NOT FOR PROFIT..."), Nussbaum unfortunately did not venture into the intricacies of the 'FOR PROFIT' teleology working at every level of the society today. Instead what Nussbaum presented is a defense for Socratic pedagogy and a fastpaced clip through the ideas of several education progressivists, names like Rousseau, Dewey and Tagore. I don't think Socrates needs to be defended again; and I certainly don't think Rousseau is as innocent as Nussbaum made him to be, or Dewey so easily and swiftly understood. Rather, I think that both Socrates and Rousseau et al.--the progressivists--are misplaced as two whole chapters in a book with a more critical and urgent mission. For these reasons, I am also not convinced.

In more than a few places Nussbaum makes uncritical statements that seem at odds with the overall thesis in her manifesto, for example, "knowledge is no guarantee of good behavior, but ignorance is a virtual guarantee of bad behavior" (pp.81). Well, that depends on what kind of ignorance one speaks of. Arrogant and inconsiderate ignorance, yes, of course. But humble and considered ignorance: isn't that the goal of Socratic teaching and the beginning of knowledge? Similarly but on a broader interpretation, Nussbaum's uncritical call for the 'universal citizen' or the cosmopolitan citizen demands a very careful review: who and to what extent, can be a citizen of the world today and for what purpose or mission? And what are the underlying ethos of such a global citizenship? What are its underlying binding values? Without answering these questions, we can only suspect that what Nussbaum has in mind as the underlying ethos is the ideal form of democracy that she is familiar with. This is unlikely to go well with everyone in the world today. Not only so, Nussbaum's uncritical call is likely to exacerbate her very quest for a productive citizenship of the world.

In all, I think this manifesto is a missed opportunity for a stronger and a more convincing call-to-arms in the humanities today. Insofar as Nussbaum's premise is concerned, I think it is relevant for the complex crisis the world is facing today: what to do at the limits of the market economy and how to deal with the threats of the environment at its limits. However, Nussbaum's subsequent arguments stray too often from the deeper and much more urgent mission that her premises promised.
15 di 20 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A thoughtful and important book. 27 giugno 2010
Di Book Junkie - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida
In this book the author reminds us that a successful democracy requires citizens who can engage in reasoned argument and who have the ability to see issues from multiple points of view. Liberal education fosters both abilities, and therefore is essential to democracy. So runs Nussbaum's straightforward argument in this educational manifesto. Nussbaum also points out that liberal education is under threat in the few countries where it has been established at all, an observation that is confirmed by recent events taking place at British universities (the attempt to make philosophy professors redundant at Kings College and the closing of the philosophy department at Middlesex). Overall this is good piece of writing, combining passionate enthusiasm with calm arguments and informative examples. Not for Profit reminds us all that the deeper purposes of liberal education go well beyond personal advancement or national competitiveness. A thoughtful and important book.
7 di 9 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle A Lot of Good Ideas from Nussbaum Here 4 luglio 2010
Di Gregory Murray - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida
I started this little book about a month ago and just got around to reading the last chapter of it last week. It was pretty good, I would say. Nussbaum describes it as a manifesto, and this is most certainly a correct characterization. Generally, she argues that the humanities and liberal arts education are vital to democracy because they help to cultivate informed, empathetic, and critical world citizens: the sort of people necessary to sustain democratic societies. She criticizes the growth-oriented model of education in which the natural sciences and engineering (among other disciplines) are promoted at the expense of history and literature and philosophy; the former set increases GNP whereas the latter only contributes to the full realization of its students' humanity, which does not directly increase GNP. Nussbaum's own values are evident in her arguments, but this is no criticism, as (1) that her book is a manifesto does not compel her to conceal her values and (2) I agree with much of what she says. I am skeptical that her arguments will have much impact in places where liberal arts education is not already the norm, and I only hope that they will help to sustain it in places where it is. After all, the growth-oriented model is steamrolling ahead.
2 di 2 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle The good Life as requiring Education in the Humanities 21 giugno 2012
Di Shalom Freedman - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida
Martha Nussbaum is one of the world's most courageous and capable public intellectuals. As a moral philosopher she has not been content to confine her insights to the Academy but has again and again taken responsible positions on major issues of the day. Here she argues against the current downsizing of the Humanities in the academic world. She makes the case that the single- minded focus on economic growth has led to a distortion in priorities and values. She is concerned that those educated only to be productive economically, scientifically , technologically will lack the human empathy, and imagination, the knowledge of other worlds and cultures, the ability to research and understand worlds not one's own, the critical thought all vital to being responsible democratic citizens. She makes a case for a kind of broad education most commensurate with full development of individual human powers.
As one educated primarily in the humanities I wonder if she does not downplay the problematics of such education, including its often leading to intellectual confusion, paralysis, a sense of the loss of all meaning and purpose, a feeling of weariness at the endless over- interpretation of everything often involved in humanistic study.
But I believe given the current atmosphere in the university world and global economy the emphasis she places is correct for this time.

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