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Life Arts    H4'ed 10/7/13

Can Martha C. Nussbaum Help Save Our Embattled Democracy?

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(Article changed on October 11, 2013 at 12:16)

(Article changed on October 9, 2013 at 10:57)

Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) October 7, 2013: Martha C. Nussbaum's timely book POLITICAL EMOTIONS: WHY LOVE MATTERS FOR JUSTICE (2013) is a tour de force -- not only both perceptive and profound but also easy to read.


Professor Nussbaum argues that love is necessary for social and political cohesiveness in liberal democracies such as the experiments in democratic governance in the United States and India. (Out of considerations of space, I am only going to highlight certain parts of her book here. In doing so, I will omit many of her specific examples, including all of her examples about India.)


Now I ask you this: Do you think that love or justice matter for Tea Party Republicans? As I highlight Nussbaum's thought here, you might keep Tea Party Republicans in mind. For example, do you think that perhaps some Tea Party Republicans may be motivated by what Kant refers to as radical evil, or by what Nussbaum refers to as anthropodenial, or by what she refers to as narcissism -- or perhaps by a combination of all three tendencies? I know, I know, I should be careful not to indulge in projective tendencies regarding our fellow Americans who describe themselves as Tea Party Republicans. After all, we have been admonished to love our neighbors as ourselves. Nevertheless, the comic spirit may be called for to deal with Tea Party Republicans. But enough about Tea Party Republicans.






Basically, Nussbaum's argument about why love matters for justice is related, roughly, to the motto "fraternity" from the French Revolution, but without the old gender bias of the term "fraternity."


Historically, the famous experiment in participatory democracy in ancient Athens involved something akin to love -- male bonding among the male citizens (women and slaves and visitors were not citizens). In short, fraternity.


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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