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Not for Profit essay

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In the book “Not For Profit” Martha C. Nussbaum discusses how she believes the humanities is needed in modern day democracy and the important role it plays when producing informed citizens that are able to think critically. Her whole book points to the humanities as being the key to a successful democracy and should be taken into account when comparing different nation’s form of democracy. One would need to read the whole book in its entirety to fully understand her argument for the role of humanities in the modern world. However, we will just be looking at one of the twelve chapters in “Not for Profit” and doing a rhetorical analysis of the arguments within. We will take excerpts from chapter two of her book.
In the second chapter of Nussbaum’s book she is comparing the difference of democracies that focus on the development of the individual rather than an emphasis on economic growth. She provides a look at two different nations which she claims to know fairly well, India and the United States. She praises the U.S for having a university system that doesn’t drive the students to produce for the economy of the nation, rather the development of informed citizens. She brings up the general education piece of the American colleges and maintains that it is crucial for students to have a well rounded education rather than be targeted to a specific field. I believe that this chapter is a classic example of deliberative discourse. We can break down this chapter into three parts:
-Introduction (Paragraph 1) 1. Economic capital vs. Human Capital (Paragraph 2-11)
2. Social justice and why an economic driven society leads to elitism (Paragraph 12-22)
-Conclusion (Paragraph 22-25)
As you can see, the Author spent equal time on the two main parts of this chapter. She starts in number 1 (Economic capital vs. Human Capital) with clarifying the difference between a society that is driven purely for Economic reasons vs. a society geared for the informed citizen. She then goes on in number 2 (Social justice and why an economic driven society leads to elitism) to show us what has happened and can happen if a country or state focuses only on economic prosperity. She is guiding us to heed her warnings and strive for a more diverse education in humanities. In her first paragraph Nussbaum starts her introduction by posing a question: “What does it mean, then, for a nation to advance?” She is getting the audience to think critically about the measurement that is and should be used to measure the success of a democracy. Nussbaum then brings out a term that we all are familiar with “GNP” (Gross National Product per Capita). She goes on to tell us that this is one way a nation’s success can be measured. Almost immediately she shoots down the notion that GNP is a good proxy for a nation’s overall quality of life.
In the next paragraph which starts the body of her argument she continues with the problem of using GNP as a measuring stick. She says “Never mind about distribution and social equality, never mind about the preconditions of stable democracy, never mind about the quality of race and gender relations, never mind about the improvement of other aspects of a human being’s quality of life that are not well linked to economic growth”. Nussbaum is clearly trying to make a distinction between economic growth and quality of life. She follows that up with an example of South Africa. She points out that South Africa would shoot to the top of development indices despite having vast inequalities within society. She states “There was a lot of wealth in the old South Africa, and the old model of development rewarded that achievement (or good fortune), ignoring the staggering distributional inequalities, the brutal apartheid regime, and the health and educational deficiencies that went with it”.
In paragraph 3 she talks about how despite being rejected by serious development thinkers “GNP” continues to dominate policy making in the modern world. She brings up India and how some states in India are handling policy making in very different ways. She say some states are taking the “GNP” route to improve their quality of life, whereas other states are trying to make improvements in areas that involve the masses gaining access to education, healthcare, and finding a way to make sure the states infrastructure serves all of its citizens.
In paragraph 4 she talks about proponents of the old model which claim that health, education, and a decrease in social and economic inequality comes naturally with economic success. In Sentence 5 we are given a definition for the term “Old Paradigm”. She defines this term by stating “So producing economic growth does not mean producing democracy. Nor does it mean producing a healthy, engaged, educated population in which opportunities for a good life are available to all social classes. Still everyone likes economic growth these days, and the trend is, if anything, toward increasing reliance on what I have called “The Old Paradigm”, rather than toward a more complex account of what societies should be trying to achieve for their people”. She defines the old paradigm as a purely economic driven society that ignores inequalities in health, and education.
In paragraphs 5-10 Nussbaum is comparing the U.S to India and European countries that have students go straight into specific training for their field. She says that the U.S system has a liberal arts model of university education. She praises this system because instead of entering college to one specific subject students are required to take a wide range of courses in their first two years, most of them in the humanities. She touches on how standardized tests are what students are taught to prepare for, missing the critical thinking part. She argues in paragraph 9 sentence 5 “This model of education supplanted an older one in which children sat still all day and simply absorbed, and then regurgitated, the material that was brought their way.
In paragraph 11-21 Nussbaum talks about the rural poor and how a purely economic driven education system leads to an elite class that controls the lower class that cannot think critically. In this section I believe she is using ethos as a means to communicate the danger of a society that is unable to think for themselves and are only trained to carry out one specific duty. She claims that in a model such as the one in Gujarat or Andhra Pradesh (Indian states) will produce only an elite that have no incentive to educate the majority of citizens. She continues to say this about the GNP per capita paradigm of development in paragraph 12 sentence 8 “It neglects distribution and can give high marks to nations or states that contain alarming inequalities”. In paragraph 2 she had already provided an example of this with South Africa as the country receiving high marks in economic terms but had truly horrendous inequalities during apartheid.
In paragraphs 22-25 Nussbaum closes with her conclusion and sales pitch for a human development model of education. She tells us what to do in order to produce a more humanistic democracy that distributes health and education more fairly. She lists the abilities needed by citizens to promote a humane, people sensitive democracy. The list is as follows:
-The ability to think well about political issues facing the country
-The ability to recognize fellow citizens as people with equal rights
-The ability to have concern for the lives of others
-The ability to imagine well a variety of complex issues affecting the story of a human life as it unfolds: to think about childhood, adolescence, family relationships, illness, and death
-The ability to judge political leaders critically
-The ability to think about the good of the nation as a whole and not just that of one’s own local group.
-The ability to see one’s own nation, in turn, as a part of a complicated world order in which issues of many kinds require intelligent transnational deliberation for their resolution.

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