Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Martha the Great

I first read Martha Nussbaum as an undergraduate philosophy student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy examines the ethical thought of Plato and Aristotle, but also Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, as manifested in their tragic dramas. When I read this book, a lot of vague and unsettled ideas I'd been struggling toward fell into place with one of those profoundly satisfying clicks you hope to experience once or twice in your intellectual life. I realized my interests in fiction and philosophy were not mutually exclusive. Not only could they co-exist, they might in fact be different facets of the same interest, two itches that could be scratched with the same finger.

Love's Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature continues her project of mining literary works for ethical and philosophical insights. It includes essays on Aristotle, Plato, Henry James, Charles Dickens, and Samuel Beckett. She's also written books on education, religion, economics, and law.

Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.

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