Nussbaum: Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities

The philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum has published a short book titled, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities.. Princeton University Press has made the first chapter available as a PDF where she sets out the crisis,

Radical changes are occurring in what democratic societies teach the young, and these changes have not been well thought through. Thirsty for national profit, nations, and their systems of education, are heedlessly discarding skills that are needed to keep democracies alive. If this trend continues, nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves, criticize tradition, and understand the significance of another person’s sufferings and achievements. The future of the world’s democracies hangs in the balance.

Nussbaum believes that the arts and humanities teach important abilities crucial to the health of democratic nations. These abilities are:

the ability to think critically; the ability to transcend local loyalties and to approach world problems as a “citizen of the world”; and, finally, the ability to imagine sympathetically the predicament of another person (p. 7)

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