Since 1993, Jeffrey J. Williams has conducted over 50 interviews with contemporary critics, philosophers and writers. The Conversant is pleased to republish a selection of these interviews. This interview with Martha Nussbaum took place July 8, 2007 at Nussbaum’s office at the University of Chicago Law School. Transcribed by Heather Steffen and David Cerniglia.
“Philosophy should not be written in detachment from real life,” Martha Nussbaum declares in her 1997 book, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education (Harvard UP). One of the most prolific critics of her generation, with over thirty books, three hundred articles and fifty reviews in prominent journals like The New Republic, Nussbaum bridges the divide between specialized and public philosophy. She has drawn especially on the Stoics to reinvigorate moral and political philosophy, and she investigates the import of literature and the emotions in books ranging from The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (Cambridge UP, 1986) to Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge UP, 2001).