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Title: TWENTIETH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY: Intellectual Heroes and Key Themes


1
TWENTIETH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY Intellectual
Heroes and Key Themes

2
LECTURES
  1. The pariah as rebel.
  2. The hope of the hopeless.
  3. Message in a bottle.
  4. Absolute free.
  5. Human flourishing.
  6. Genealogy as critique.

3
V. HUMAN FLOURISHING
4
  • 1. VIRTUES
  • What about the good life?
  • CAPABILITIES
  • How to conceive global justice?
  • 3. COSMOPOLITANS
  • Which attitude is appropriate to the deal with
    the big issues of the 21th century?

5
1. VIRTUES
6
CLASSICAL ETHICS
  • The central question of classical ethics gt how to
    live?
  • Many philosophers answered that question by
    underlining the importance of certain virtues
    (courage, honesty, decency, truthfulness etc.).
  • A virtues life is, according to classical
    philosophers, a good life.
  • However, they differ concerning the question
    which virtues are important and outweigh others.
  • Plato gt virtues that are helpful to have the
    unstable aspects of life under control.
  • Aristoteles gt virtues that are helpful to find
    the golden mean, because it is impossible to have
    the unstable aspects of life under control.

7
MODERN ETHICS
  • In modern ethics the question of the good life
    retreats into the background.
  • Respect for the plurality of lifestyles implies
    that it is impossible to prescribe what the just
    answer to this question is.
  • The answer is the concern of the individual.
  • Modern ethics restricts itself to normative
    issues that can be the object of a rational
    debate and will lead to generally accepted
    judgments.
  • All in all modern ethics is all about the traffic
    rules for people with different ideas about the
    good life.

8
THE RETURN OF VIRTUES
  • The eighties of the 20th century gt a kind of
    rebirth of virtue ethics.
  • Philosophers place classical philosophy with its
    attention for the good life in the forefront.
  • There are mainly three philosophers who are
    responsible for the renewed reflection on
    virtues
  • 1. Alasdair MacIntyre gt After Virtue. A Study
    in Moral Theory (1981).
  • 2. Bernard Williams gt Moral Luck (1981).
  • 2. Martha Nussbaum gt The Fragility of
    Goodness. Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and
    Philosophy (1986).

9
MARTHA NUSSBAUM
  • BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
  • 1947 Born May 6, in New York.
  • 1969 Studies classics and theatre at New York
    University.
  • 1972 Studies philosophy at Harvard University.
  • 1978 PhD in philosophy at Harvard University.
  • 1986 involved in research on the quality of life
    at the World Institute for Development Economic
    Research (Wider) of the United Nations.
  • 1995 Professor in law and ethics at the
    University of Chicago.

10
MAJOR WORKS
  • The Fragility of Goodness (1986).
  • Loves knowledge (1990).
  • The Therapy of Desire (1994).
  • Poetic Justice (1995).
  • For Love of Country (1994/1997).
  • Cultivating Humanity (1997).
  • Sex and Social Justice (1998).
  • Women and Human Development (2000).
  • Upheavals of Thought. The Intelligence of
    Emotions (2001).
  • Frontiers of Justice (2006).
  • The Clash Within (2007).
  • Liberty of Conscience (2008).
  • Not For Profit Why Democracy Needs the
    Humanities (2010).

11
THE IMPORTANCE OF EMOTIONS
  • Nussbaum combines classical with modern ethics.
  • She mobilizes especially the work of Aristotle to
    change modern ethics.
  • Like Aristotle one has to admit that emotions
    should be taken seriously.
  • Emotions dont frustrate a rational view on
    reality.
  • For instance, anxiety is in most cases based on
    the correct view that there is a danger.
  • However, Nussbaum doesnt think that every
    emotion is rational and from a moral perspective
    appropriate.
  • She criticizes the stoic vision that emotions
    should be under control in order to be
    independent of the unstable aspects of life.
  • A life without emotions is not only an illusion,
    but also poor.

12
PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE
  • Nussbaum underlines the importance of literature
    for the clarification of moral questions.
  • Literature is good for the ability to judge,
    because a reader of a novel will become
    acquainted with different perspectives on an
    issue.
  • Novels, poems and tragedies make an appeal to the
    intellectual capacity, the emotions and the
    imagination of the reader.
  • Without having the life of the characters of a
    novel, the reader can experience a lot and enrich
    his life.
  • Literature embodies a lot of wisdom that can be
    fruitful for philosophy.

13
THE WISDOM OF TRAGEDIES
  • Tragedies gt stories with a dramatic end that give
    expression to practical wisdom and show that one
    cannot control everything.
  • They are dealing with the tension between will
    and fate.
  • Most often they present moral dilemmas gt
    situations where it is impossible to determine
    which of the possible options is the best.
  • Tragedies give expression to contradictory norms.
  • Example Agamemnon of Aeschylus.

14
A SACRIFICE
  • With his crew on the journey to Troy Agamemnon
    becomes punished by the revenge of the goddess
    Artemis.
  • Revenge be becalmed.
  • Artemis is furious because so many young men will
    die if they are not in time in Troy.
  • A prophet gives the sign that Agamemnon and his
    crew will only survive when he sacrifices his
    daughter Iphigenia to the gods.
  • Agamemnon sacrifices Iphigenia.

15
THE DISGRACE OF AGAMEMNON
  • Nussbaum raises the question why Agamemnon is
    wrong.
  • Answer not because he sacrifices his daughter,
    but because of his inappropriate attitude
    towards the conflict, killing a human child with
    no more agony, no more revulsion of feeling.
  • Agamemnon can be criticized because of is
    inadequate emotions (not mournful, etc.).
  • The point of Nussbaum the rightness of an action
    doesnt only depend on the arguments pro and con,
    but also on the emotions one shows.

16
2. CAPABILITIES
17
HOW TO FLOURISH, THATS THE QUESTION
  • In contrast to the philosophy of Kant, Nussbaum
    is not in search of universal principles, but in
    search of ideas that contribute to human
    flourishing (eudaimonia).
  • She distances herself form the dominant
    cognitivism within ethics.
  • Cognitivism emphasizes the importance of
    rationally acquired knowledge and conceives
    emotions most often as irrational.
  • Emotions are not irrational, but deliver on
    several issues a specific perspective.
  • A pure cognitive ethics is according to Nussbaum
    wrong.

18
A NEW APPROACH
  • The issue of development (i.e. worldwide human
    flourishing) is not only a question of the
    redistribution of scarce goods.
  • Against that background Nussbaum developed with
    Amartya Sen the so-called capability approach.
  • Development is an issue that is mainly about the
    development of the opportunities that people have
    to develop their capabilities.
  • Governments have the duty to give citizens the
    opportunities to develop ten capabilities.

19
CENTRAL HUMAN CAPABILITIES
  1. Life gt being able to live to the end of a human
    life of normal length.
  2. Bodily Health gt being able to have a good health.
  3. Bodily integrity gt being able to move freely from
    place to place.
  4. Senses, Imagination, and Thought gt being able to
    use the senses.
  5. Emotions gt being able to have attachments to
    things and people.
  6. Practical reason gt being able to form a
    conception of the good life and to engage in
    critical reflection.
  7. Affiliation gt being able to live with and toward
    others and having the social bases of
    self-respect.
  8. Other species gt being able to live with concern
    for and in relation to animals, plants, and the
    world of nature.
  9. Play gt being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy
    recreational activities.
  10. Control over Ones Environment gt being able to
    participate in the political sphere and hold
    property.

20
CONTRA RELATIVISM
  • Nussbaum refutes relativism, i.e. the standpoint
    that human capabilities are not transhistorical
    and transcultural.
  • She argues that the ten capabilities are
    transhistorical and transcultural gt the are
    essential for every single individual.
  • The ten capabilities are universal.
  • Nevertheless they are abstract enough to give
    space to do justice to differences between
    contexts gt a question of translation.

21
THE GOOD LIFE
  • Just like Aristotle Nussbaum thinks that the
    human being is a political animal (zoon
    politikon) that wants to have a good life.
  • The ten capabilities are minimal but crucial
    elements of the good life.
  • Contexts that do not justice to these
    capabilities frustrate the good life of an
    individual.
  • For a flourishing life it is important that an
    individual has the opportunities to develop the
    ten capabilities.
  • This is an issue of global justice.

22
GLOBAL JUSTICE
  • Development should not be stuck on the Gross
    Domestic Product (GDP), i.e. the value that all
    officially recognized final goods and services
    produced within a country have on the market in a
    specific period of time, but on the opportunities
    for people to develop the ten capabilities.
  • The capabilities approach of Nussbaum and Sen has
    a practical spin-off gt the Human Development
    Report of the UNDP.
  • Global justice implies that all human beings have
    de facto the necessary opportunities to develop
    the ten capabilities a world in which people
    have all the capabilities on the list is a
    minimally just and decent world.

23
3. COSMOPOLITANS
24
BEYOND THE CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
  • Nussbaum resists stubbornly the worldwide rise of
    nationalism.
  • The patriotism that is inherent to nationalism is
    based upon the model of concentric circles.
  • The basic thought of patriotism gt people feel
    themselves in first instance responsible for the
    people who are next to them.
  • Nussbaum presents a cosmopolitan model that is
    based upon her capabilities approach.

25
HUMAN DIGNITY
  • The cosmopolitanism of Nussbaum is based on a
    specific idea of human dignity.
  • She argues that the ten capabilities are
    essential for a decent life.
  • They correspond to the Universal Declaration of
    Human Rights.
  • In order to do justice to these rights,
    collective action is indispensible.
  • That implies that transnational institutions
    should be revised or established that garantee
    compliance with human rights.

26
NO WORLD STATE
  • Global justice cannot be attained with a world
    state.
  • A world state would lead to a political system
    that will give an elite to much power gt
    despotism.
  • A world state is a threat to cultural diversity.
  • Cosmopolitanism implies that human rights should
    be implemented on the level of the nation state.
  • That implies that nation states are also
    responsible for the quality of life of
    strangers.
  • Affluent states have the responsibility to give
    up to a certain degree - their wealth.
  • Besides nation states transnational corporations
    and transnational organisations (World Bank, WTO,
    etc.) and NGOs are responsible to establish
    global justice.

27
CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION
  • In times of globalisation education should not be
    fixed on the nation state.
  • Citizenship education should also be focused on
    the education of world citizens.
  • That implies that kids should learn a lot about
    other cultures, life-styles.
  • Art and literature are important for the
    education of world citizens, because it is
    helpful to become acquainted with other
    perspectives on issues and opens the door for
    intercultural dialogues.

28
RECOMMENDED
  • Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness
    translations in several languages.
  • Martha Nussbaum, Loves knowledge translations in
    several languages.
  • Martha Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice
    translations in several languages.
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