Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Fragility of Goodness

My sister told me about an interesting movie she watched last night - Examined Life ...

Examined Life is a 2008 documentary film directed by Astra Taylor. The film features eight influential contemporary philosophers walking around New York and other metropolises and discussing the practical application of their ideas in modern culture. The philosophers featured are Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Slavoj Žižek, and Judith Butler, who is accompanied by Taylor's sister Sunny, a disability activist ....

You can find video clips of the different interviews at YouTube. Here below is one with Judith Butler as she walks and talks in San Francisco to Sunaura Taylor, a painter and activist for disability and animal rights .....

Also of interest, at least to ancient Greek history and philosophy and mythology loving me :) .... I'd not known of Martha Nussbaum, so I was really intrigued to see wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy, in which she mentions one of the more interesting guys in Greek history - Alcibiades. Here's what Wikipedia says of the book ....

The Fragility of Goodness confronts the ethical dilemma that individuals strongly committed to justice are nevertheless vulnerable to external factors that may deeply compromise or even negate their human flourishing. Discussing literary as well as philosophical texts, Nussbaum seeks to determine the extent to which reason may enable self-sufficiency. She eventually rejects the Platonic notion that human goodness can fully protect against peril, siding with the tragic playwrights and Aristotle in treating the acknowledgment of vulnerability as a key to realizing the human good.

Her interpretation of Plato's Symposium in particular drew considerable attention. Under Nussbaum's consciousness of vulnerability, the re-entrance of Alcibiades at the end of the dialogue undermines Diotima's account of the ladder of love in its ascent to the non-physical realm of the forms. Alcibiades's presence deflects attention back to physical beauty, sexual passions, and bodily limitations, hence highlighting human fragility.

Fragility made Nussbaum famous throughout the humanities. It garnered wide praise in academic reviews, and even drew acclaim in the popular media.[26] Camille Paglia credited Fragility with matching "the highest academic standards" of the twentieth century, and The Times Higher Education called it "a supremely scholarly work." Nussbaum's fame extended her influence beyond print and into television programs like PBS's Bill Moyers.

And here's a video of her talking about the book with Bill Moyers ....


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