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.
We brought together Martha Nussbaum and Alain de Botton to discuss the value of the humanities, the respective flaws and virtues of British and American universities, and whether academics themselves should shoulder some of the blame for the current crisis in the humanities. Click here to download the podcast.
Thanks to the British Academy for helping to arrange this podcast
This podcast is part of a series called ‘In conversation with…,’ a new podcast from Prospect in which we talk to some of the world’s leading intellectuals & writers about their recent work. So far we’ve spoken to the economist Ha-Joon Chang, novelist Ismail Kadare and writer Geoff Dyer. Click here to subscribe to the podcast.