martha nussbaum

martha nussbaum


been reading her words via maria for some time.. adding page this day:

Maria Popova (@brainpicker) tweeted at 6:58 AM on Wed, May 06, 2020:
How do you know you really love someone? An incompleteness theorem of the heart from the great philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who turns 73 today, with backup vocals by Proust

mostly because of this:

We find ourselves asking where, in this plurality of discordant voices with which we address ourselves on this topic of perennial self-interest, is the criterion of truth? (And what does it mean to look for a criterion here? Could that demand itself be a tool of self-deception?)

i’m guessing she’s talking about which ‘stories of the heart to trust’.. but i see this in everything.. because of the interconnectedness of everything..

and so i see this ‘looking for criterion’ as a red flag.. as a ‘tool of deception’

parts of article also resonate with the intellectual/academic/guide/expert ness i was trying to get at here: listen & connect .. ie: thinking we need a guide (criterion) or that we need to guide people.. is also a red flag..

again – talking about love relationships here.. but i don’t see how you can separate it from how we just are in the world

The primary and most ubiquitous form of this reflex is seen in the operations of habit, which makes the pain of our vulnerability tolerable to us by concealing need, concealing particularity (hence vulnerability to loss), concealing all the pain-inflicting features of the world — simply making us used to them, dead to their assaults. When we are used to them we do not feel them or long for them in the same way; we are no longer so painfully afflicted by our failure to control and possess them.

thinking about the habits of whales in sea world

Marcel has been able to conclude that he is not in love with Albertine, in part because he is used to her. His calm, methodical intellectual scrutiny is powerless to dislodge this “dream deity, so riveted to one’s being, its insignificant face so incrusted in one’s heart.” Indeed, it fails altogether to discern the all-important distinction between the face of habit and the true face of the heart.

see with heart ness

Cost-benefit analysis is a way of comforting oneself, of putting oneself in control by pretending that all losses can be made up by sufficient quantities of something else. This stratagem opposes the recognition of love — and, indeed, love itself.

almaas holes law et al

Our intelligence, however lucid, cannot perceive the elements that compose it and remain unsuspected so long as, from the volatile state in which they generally exist, a phenomenon capable of isolating them has not subjected them to the first stages of solidification. I had been mistaken in thinking that I could see clearly into my own heart.

embodiment et al

The impression [that he loves Albertine] comes upon Marcel unbidden, unannounced, uncontrolled… Surprise, vivid particularity, and extreme qualitative intensity are all characteristics that are systematically concealed by the workings of habit, the primary form of self-deception and self-concealment.


fromm spontaneous law et al.. simultaneous spontaneity

The suffering itself is a piece of self-knowing. In responding to a loss with anguish, we are grasping our love. The love is not some separate fact about us that is signaled by the impression; the impression reveals the love by constituting it. Love is not a structure in the heart waiting to be discovered; it is embodied in, made up out of, experiences of suffering.

Before the suffering he was indeed self-deceived — both because he was denying a general structural feature of his humanity and because he was denying the particular readiness of his soul to feel hopeless love for Albertine. He was on a verge of a precipice and thought he was safely immured in his own rationality. But his case shows us as well how the successful denial of love is the (temporary) extinction and death of love, how self-deception can aim at and nearly achieve self-change.

It tells us that the intellectual account was wrong: wrong about the content of the truth about Marcel, wrong about the methods appropriate for gaining this knowledge, wrong as well about what sort of experience in and of the person knowing is. And it tells us that to try to grasp love intellectually is a way of not suffering, not loving — a practical rival, a stratagem of flight.

We said that in the cataleptic impression there is acknowledgement of one’s own vulnerability and incompleteness, an end to our flight from ourselves. But isn’t the whole idea of basing love and its knowledge on cataleptic impressions itself a form of flight — from openness to the other, from all those things in love for which there is in fact no certain criterion? Isn’t his whole enterprise just a new and more subtle expression of the rage for control, and need for possession and certainty, the denial of incompleteness and neediness that characterized the intellectual project? Isn’t he still hungry for a science of life?

The heart and mind of another are unknowable, even unapproachable, except in fantasies and projections that are really elements of the knower’s own life, not the other’s.

Love … is a permanent structural feature of our soul.

The alternations between love and its denial, suffering and denial of suffering … constitute the most essential and ubiquitous structural feature of the human heart. In suffering we know only suffering. We call our rationalizations false and delusive, and we do not see to what extent they express a mechanism that is regular and deep in our lives. But this means that in love itself we do not yet have full knowledge of love — for we do not grasp its limits and boundaries.

Love’s Knowledge is a revelatory read in its totality.


10 min video from may 2011 – Creating Capabilities – []

(on use of gdp of measure of quality of life) – funnels everything in life together in a single number.. when want to know how particulars are doing ie: health, ed, et al

it’s the measuring/accounting ness that’s the poison.. which is what got us to separating/labeling parts of life in the first place.. no?

on creating an enabling environ for people – what are people actually able to do .. i made a list of 10 because i’m interested in constitutional law.. then have to figure out how to measure each of them.. ie: what would mean good ed.. we always need to be pushing for better measures.. health opps is what we need to be looking at not health achievements.. people should have choices/opps to have good health.. so it’s very hard to measure that

we’ll only get there if we let go of any form of measuring/accounting

finite set of choices ness is killing us

so just look at diseases

look at diseases? to get to capabilities..?

how political arrangements can address forms of vulnerability.. we don’t want to remove them from human life.. but we want to support that

ie: cure ios city

good governance can leave room for the good kind of vulnerability

2 convers as infra

it’s not imperialism if you try to persuade people..

if don’t have certain (goals).. hard for meaningful pluralism to exist.. complication between pluralism and universalism

this is a list of capabilities.. not a list of functions.. it’s a set of opps

what i put on list was something extreme/general.. with the idea that each nation would take it and do it in their version (referring to free speech et al)

today we have means to go extreme general ie: simple infra..

so that the opps reach infinity .. so that it’s no longer about choices.. but rather about daily curiosity


find/follow Martha:

wikipedia small

Martha Craven Nussbaum (/ˈnʊsbɔːm/, born 1947) is an American philosopher and the current Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, where she is jointly appointed in the law school and the philosophy department. She has a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy, feminism, and ethics, including animal rights. She also holds associate appointments in classics, divinity, and political science, is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a board member of the Human Rights Program. She previously taught at Harvard and Brown.

Nussbaum is the author of a number of books, including The Fragility of Goodness(1986), Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education(1997), Sex and Social Justice (1998), Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (2004), Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (2006), and From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (2010). She received the 2016 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy and the 2018 Berggruen Prize.