Martha Nussbaum fears our critical culture, inculcated by a liberal arts education, is under attack, with democracy itself coming under threat. Matthew Reisz thinks her case is overstated

It is precisely because Martha Nussbaum is so obviously one of the stars of the American academy that many people will be inclined to sit up and listen when she produces “a call to action” about “a worldwide crisis in education”.

Her new book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, certainly pulls no punches. “We are in the midst of a crisis of massive proportions and grave global significance,” she writes, “a crisis that goes largely unnoticed, like a cancer; a crisis that is likely to be, in the long run, far more damaging to the future of democratic self-government (than the economic crisis of 2008).”

She fears that current major trends within education are “producing a greedy obtuseness and a technically trained docility that threaten the very life of democracy itself”, and that “all modern societies are rapidly losing the battle, as they feed the forces that lead to violence and dehumanisation”. At stake is whether we are going to end up with “a world that is worth living in”.

Read full story – whether the situation is as dire, especially in the UK.

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