Dr. Donald Roy
September 29, 2012
Martha Nussbaum: “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities”
Martha C. Nussbaum is the author of the book, “Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities.” The book begins by drawing the reader’s attention by explaining the “Silent Crisis.” She describes education in the eyes of the government, and in the eyes of the people. There is a connection made between education and the liberal arts.
The title of the book, “Not For Profit,” are three simple words that when put together, have a deep meaning. In this case, Nussbaum is using the phrase to relate to education. The government sees education as a way to further our economic situation. Statistics say that a student that attends college will earn a great deal more than a student that has not attended college. When people earn more money, they usually spend more money. This stimulates our economy, and is the goal of the government.
Government aims to use education as a tool to better our economy, yet they continually decrease the amount of money they give to public schools each year. They take out the true classes that give a person their true identity. It seems as if people are slowly becoming uniform, in being that liberal arts are being taken away, and students are left to studying simply the core classes of what they call “education”.
Martha is trying to explain that our education is not for profit! Education is supposed to let people explore different skills and talents. There is a difference between education for profit, and education for citizenship. Education is intended to enhance the lives of the students which receive it. (Nussbaum 9). Martha quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, which said:
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.
I couldn’t agree more with this quote. This should be the true meaning and importance of education, not for the greediness of the government to use it for profit. Democracy truly needs the humanities. Liberal arts supplement education in making it better-rounded. Without the arts and humanities, we become the government’s puppets, only being used to increase the economy.
Liberal arts have been a part of education for quite some time. However, they have never truly been an important part of education according to government standards. What are important to them are the four core subjects: math, science, social studies, and language arts. Martha Nussbaum seems to disagree. To her, the liberal arts are the parts of education that make each student an individual. It gives them their creativity, and it teaches their brains to think critically and analytically, rather than being confined to a box dictated by the core subjects. These ways of thinking are very valuable. They set apart each person, giving them their true identity. Liberal arts teach people to think for themselves. Without them people will rely on the government to do the thinking, and the government will no longer truly represent its people.
The Socratic Way defines the way in which students “think and argue for themselves, rather than defer to tradition and authority,“ and is “valuable for democracy.” (Nussbaum 48). In terms of education this is important because thinking for oneself leads to critical thinking. Critical thinking causes students to also think analytically; therefore they get a better understanding of their material.
Democracy is rule of the people. If the people cannot “think and argue for themselves,” then how can they rule their country? It would be difficult to choose representatives if the people could not make their own decisions. Also in the business world as well, it would be difficult to get anything accomplished....
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