September 02, 2004

Living Philosophers series to include Nussbaum

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Prolific American philosopher Martha Craven Nussbaum is joining the ranks of such great thinkers as Albert Einstein, Jean-Paul Sartré and Bertrand Russell, Randall E. Auxier, editor of the Library of Living Philosophers book series, recently announced.

The book series originates from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which serves as headquarters for the Library's works. Nussbaum, like her peers above, will be the subject of an upcoming volume in the series.

Author of a dozen books, a frequent lecturer and consultant to groups around the globe, Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. In addition, she holds academic affiliations with the U of C's divinity, philosophy, classics and Southern Asian studies departments.

"Professor Nussbaum is the best choice among those in her generation (to be featured in our latest edition) because she has always seen ideas as reaching beyond the academy to improve the world," says Auxier, also a philosophy professor at SIUC.

Nussbaum espouses the "capabilities approach" to life, which calls for "a set of universal values that include the right to life, the right to bodily health and integrity, the right to participate in political affairs and the right to hold property," Harriet Rubin, a senior writer for Fast Co., explains in an article on the Web site.

Adds Auxier: "Professor Nussbaum's work in global justice and issues of justice for women illustrate (her commitments) as a public philosopher, activist and practitioner of the best possibilities of the philosophic life, and this is what the Library of Living Philosophers values most."

Open Court Publishing, publisher of the Library of Living Philosophers series since 1960, will release the estimated 1,000-page volume on Nussbaum's life and thought in 2008. Open Court is a division of Carus Publishing Co.

Each edition features a sole philosopher selected by a board of distinguished advisors from the worlds of philosophy and academia.

Readers will find an intellectual autobiography, a series of essays by thinkers who agree and disagree with the featured philosopher's thoughts, her replies to those interpretations and a comprehensive list of the philosopher's writings in each book.

"The format of the series provides for . . . a dialogue between the critics and the great philosopher. The aim is not refutation or confrontation but rather fruitful joining of issues and improved understanding of the positions and issues involved. That is, the goal is not overcoming those who differ from us philosophically but interacting creatively with them," Auxier adds.

Paul A. Schilpp, late philosopher and SIUC professor, founded the Library in 1938. It is an intellectual endeavor within the College of Liberal Arts. Nussbaum becomes one of only 30 distinguished philosophers and only a handful of females featured in the series.

Leading in scholarly activities is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.