Review of Nussbaum's New Book, 'Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice'
Our political culture is in the pits. It would be better if it displayed more compassion. The great religions of the world advocate it, as do humane atheistic thinkers like Albert Camus. But our politics too seldom does...
Although in a later essay, I’ll examine the paucity of imagination in our political culture, in this one I’ll concentrate on the need for positive emotions, particularly love and its attendant values compassion and empathy. And I’ll do so via an examination of a new book, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice, by Martha Nussbaum, author of more than a dozen books and a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where President Obama also once taught.
I was drawn to her book for several reasons. Skimming through it indicated an emphasis on the role of literature, music, and art in awakening and developing “political love.” And having previously written on political wisdom and the importance of literature and such values as love and compassion, I hoped to gain new insights on these subjects.
Her book has not disappointed. Reading it has reinforced, but more importantly broadened, my understanding of love’s significance in political life and how it can be fostered there.