Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities

By Martha C. Nussbaum | Go to book overview

VI
Cultivating Imagination:
Literature and the Arts

We may become powerful by knowledge, but we attain full-
ness by sympathy. … But we find that this education of sym-
pathy is not only systematically ignored in schools, but it is
severely repressed.

—Rabindranath Tagore, “My School,” 1916

It will be observed that I am looking at the highly sophisti-
cated adult's enjoyment of living or of beauty or of abstract
human contrivance, and at the same time at the creative ges-
ture of a baby who reaches out for the mother's mouth and
feels her teeth, and at the same time looks into her eyes, see-
ing her creatively. For me, playing leads on naturally to cul-
tural experience and indeed forms its foundation.

—Donald Winnicott, Playing and Reality, 1971

Citizens cannot relate well to the complex world around them by factual knowledge and logic alone. The third ability of the citizen, closely related to the first two, is what we can call the narrative imagination.1 This means the ability to think what it might be

-95-

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Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • I: The Silent Crisis 1
  • II: Education for Profit, Education for Democracy 13
  • III: Educating Citizens 27
  • IV: Socratic Pedagogy 47
  • V: Citizens of the World 79
  • VI: Cultivating Imagination 95
  • VII: Democratic Education on the Ropes 121
  • Notes 145
  • Index 153
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