Martha C. Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum, born on May 6, 1947, is an Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, which also includes a professorship in the Philosophy Department, Law School and the Divinity School. She has chaired many departments and has served as professor in many universities including Harvard and Brown.

Although Nussbaum received her Bachelor's of Art from New York University in theater and classics, she took an interest in philosophy while she was at Harvard, where she was awarded her M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy. At this point in her life, she married Alan Nussbaum, a Jew, and converted to Judaism. Her interest in Judaism became more intense and in August 2008 she underwent a bat-mitzvah service at the local temple and delivered a speech about the association between non-narcissistic consolation and the pursuit of global justice.

While at Harvard, Nussbaum experienced much sexual harassment and discrimination, especially with regard to obtaining childcare for her daughter. Even after Nussbaum became the first woman to receive a Junior Fellowship from Harvard, that discrimination did not abate. A prestigious classicist sent her a note suggesting that she be called hetaira ( the Greek name for harlots educated in philosophy) because the term "female fellowess" was awkward.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nussbaum taught philosophy at Harvard, but suffered embarrassment when the Classics Department denied her tenure. She began lecturing at Brown University where she remained until the mid-1990s. She became a very well-known personality in the humanities with the publication of her book The Fragility of Goodness on ancient Greek ethics. Nussbaum established herself as a theorist of global justice with her book Frontiers of Justice.

Nussbaum has done extensive work on what she termed "capabilities," taking a hard look at the disparate opportunities and freedoms of women. She advanced a very distinct feminism inspired by her liberal ways of thinking. She did, however, emphasize that liberal thinking encompasses rather radical ideas of gender relations as well as relations in the family setting.

Nussbaum also theorized about the philosophical aspects of emotions. She was a strong proponent and defender of the neo-stoic theory of emotion. The stoic theory derives from the ancient Greek school of philosophy attributed to Zeno, which teaches that a person must be free of any affection or passion and should not be influenced or moved by emotions such as grief or joy, and should not complain when confronted with unavoidable events. Based on this theory, she has set forth many analyses of love, compassion, grief, shame and disgust.

Nussbaum has testified as an expert witness in many cases in court and has involved herself in many debates with her contemporaries about the academic writings and articles she has published in popular magazines. One of the most famous cases where she testified was in the Colorado case of Romer v. Evans. She argued against the allegation that the history of philosophy bestows upon the state the "compelling interest" to pass laws aimed at denying gays and lesbians equal protection and to discriminate against them. The controversy stemmed from the interpretation of a word tolmema from Plato's works. She criticized leftist intellectuals who believe that it is not right to criticize one's friends and that solidarity and friendship are greater than ethical correctness. She claimed that this theory can be traced directly to Karl Marx's theory, which she found loathsome, in which he displays his contempt toward bourgeois ethics.

Nussbaum has received honorary degrees from many universities and is the recipient of many prestigious awards for her well-known works on philosophy and theology. Some of her major works are: The Fragility of Goodness, Cultivating Humanity, Sex and Social Justice, Hiding from Humanity and From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law.

Martha C. Nussbaum: Selected full-text books and articles

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities By Martha C. Nussbaum Princeton University Press, 2010
Philosophy, Feminism, and Faith By Ruth E. Groenhout; Marya Bower Indiana University Press, 2003
Essays on Aristotle's De Anima By Amélie Oksenberg Rorty; Martha C. Nussbaum Clarendon Press, 1997
On Nineteen Eighty-Four: Orwell and Our Future By Abbott Gleason; Jack Goldsmith; Martha C. Nussbaum Princeton University Press, 2005
Philosophical Interventions: Book Reviews, 1986-2011 By Martha C. Nussbaum Oxford University Press, 2012
Literary Study and the Social Order By Tanner, Stephen L Humanitas, Vol. 12, No. 2, Fall 1999
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
On Development: World, Limit, translation.(Critical Essay) By Burke, Victoria I CLIO, Vol. 31, No. 2, Winter 2002
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