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Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (The Public Square) Paperback – March 26, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Nussbaum reminds the reader of the connection citizens have, not just with one another in a country, but also across borders. Education should thus be teaching a student not only to be a responsible citizen, but a responsible citizen of the world. Cultivating the imagination, independence, and compassion are the worldly syllabi. A child ‘who knows how to do things for herself, Nussbaum writes, 'does not need to make others her slave.'
The subtitle of the book is 'Why Democracy Needs the Humanities'. She propounds this theme with vigour in the final chapter of the book. Her objective is best summed up in the following paragraph (at page 141): 'Today we still maintain that we like democracy and self-governance, and we also think that we like freedom of speech, respect for difference, and understanding of others. We give these values lip service, but we think far too little about what we need to do in order to transmit them to the next generation and ensure their survival. Distracted by the pursuit of wealth, we increasingly ask our schools to turn out useful profit-makers rather than thoughtful citizens. Under the pressure to cut costs, we prune away just those parts of our educational endeavor that are crucial to preserving a healthy society.
What will we have if these trends continue?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an extremely important text, especially in the context of current transformations experienced by our system of higher education.Published 3 months ago by Bebka
This work effectively reduces the humanities to nothing better or more objectively sublime than that which it seeks to repudiate. Dr. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Matt
Such an important and essential read if we have any hopes of creating a better society of tomorrowPublished 4 months ago by Ruby Usman
It has a really important message that everyone should read!Published 11 months ago by Chase Fiedler
Food for thought. All involved in teaching should read it.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am interrested in inducation as I am a former teacher. I recomend the book to my freinds and otheres.Published on February 3, 2014 by Bente Busck
I feel like this book is just to hard to understand, she jabbers away about her opinion in what seems like an ADHD fashion. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Ashley
I have yet to finish this book--I have instead been caught in several meaningful sections that have given me cause to think and understand my profession much better. Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by Mr. F
Few scholars will agree with me on this, until and if they read the book. One of the foremost living Philosophers should have taken some time and pronounced an argument that was... Read morePublished on December 2, 2012 by J. Petrulionis