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Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education


Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

How can higher education today create a community of critical thinkers and searchers for truth that transcends the boundaries of class, gender, and nation? Martha C. Nussbaum, philosopher and classicist, argues that contemporary curricular reform is already producing such "citizens of the world" in its advocacy of diverse forms of cross-cultural studies. Her vigorous defense of "the new education" is rooted in Seneca's ideal of the citizen who scrutinizes tradition critically and who respects the ability to reason wherever it is found--in rich or poor, native or foreigner, female or male.

Drawing on Socrates and the Stoics, Nussbaum establishes three core values of liberal education--critical self-examination, the ideal of the world citizen, and the development of the narrative imagination. Then, taking us into classrooms and campuses across the nation, including prominent research universities, small independent colleges, and religious institutions, she shows how these values are (and in some instances are not) being embodied in particular courses. She defends such burgeoning subject areas as gender, minority, and gay studies against charges of moral relativism and low standards, and underscores their dynamic and fundamental contribution to critical reasoning and world citizenship.

For Nussbaum, liberal education is alive and well on American campuses in the late twentieth century. It is not only viable, promising, and constructive, but it is essential to a democratic society. Taking up the challenge of conservative critics of academe, she argues persuasively that sustained reform in the aim and content of liberal education is the most vital and invigorating force in higher education today.


2002 Grawemeyer Award in Education, University of Louisville


1999 Frederic W. Ness Book Award, Association of American Colleges and Universities

About the Author

<>Martha C. Nussbaumis Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of <>Law and Ethics Department of Philosophy, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago. She is the author of many books, including Poetic Justice, Love’s Knowledge, and The Fragility of Goodness.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction: The Old Education and the Think-Academy
  • 1. Socratic Self-Examination
  • 2. Citizens of the World
  • 3. The Narrative Imagination
  • 4. The Study of Non-Western Cultures
  • 5. African-American Studies
  • 6. Women’s Studies
  • 7. The Study of Human Sexuality
  • 8. Socrates in the Religious University
  • Conclusion: The New Liberal Education
  • Notes
  • Index

Product Details

Nussbaum, Martha Craven
Harvard University Press
Nussbaum, Martha C.
Cambridge, Mass.
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Universities and colleges
Educational Reform
Education, higher
Educational change
Education, humanistic
Curriculum change
General education.
Educational Policy & Reform
Education-School Reform & Controversy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
no. 55
Publication Date:
October 1998
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in 14 oz

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Related Subjects

Education » Assessment
Education » General
Education » Higher Education
Education » School Reform and Controversy
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General

Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education New Trade Paper
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Product details 352 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674179493 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 2002 Grawemeyer Award in Education, University of Louisville
"Synopsis" by , 1999 Frederic W. Ness Book Award, Association of American Colleges and Universities
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