Click here to listen to Martha Nussbaum in conversation with Alain de Botton
We are in the midst of a crisis. But, according to the philosopher Martha Nussbaum, this crisis is not financial. It is a crisis of education. Governments worldwide are cutting back on funding for humanities courses, both at school and university level. In her recent book Not For Profit: why democracy needs the humanities Nussbaum passionately defends the importance of the humanities at a time when they are increasingly under threat.
By contrast, the writer Alain de Botton has questioned the way the humanities are taught at university level. Writing in Varsity last year, de Botton claimed that “the humanities have been forced to disguise, both from themselves and their students, why their subjects really matter, for the sake of attracting money and prestige in a world obsessed by the achievements of science.” It was partly in response to disappointment with his education at Cambridge that de Botton founded his ‘alternative university,’ the School of Life.