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Nussbaum, Martha (1947–)

JEFFREY S. TURNER


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


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American philosopher and classicist. Nussbaum's first book was a critical edition of, and set of commentaries on, Aristotle's De Motu Animalium , at the time a rather neglected part of his corpus. Nussbaum then branched out from these Aristotelian origins to offer reflections on Greek and Hellenistic thought, E thics , rhetoric, the nature of human action, and the connections between philosophy and literature. In the past fifteen years or so, roughly beginning with the publication of Poetic Justice ( Nussbaum, 1995 ), she has published on a wide variety of issues in ethical, social and political, and legal theory and practice. Part of the inspiration for the basic idea of The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy ( Nussbaum, 1986 ) comes from Bernard W illiams's work on “moral luck.” Nussbaum tests Williams's skepticism about the existence of a moral value immune to luck by working through the embodiment of this claim in certain ancient Greek texts, as well as the way these texts construct and consider an ethics of rational self-sufficiency that would be immune to luck. Thus readings of parts of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides show an acknowledgment of the role luck plays in our moral lives, and the perils of the attempt to make oneself rationally self-sufficient. Plato's works, on the other hand – at least parts of the Protagoras, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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