“Love means seeking a good outside oneself”
“Public culture needs to be nourished by emotions and social justice “Says the internationally famous philosopher!
“Emotions rooted in love can foster commitment to shared goals and keep fear, envy and disgust at bay”
“Imagination and sympathy for others and the way to do this is through the family, through education and the arts, via art, poetry, music and literature”
A Liberal Education is just this!
In India we seem to live totally untouched by great thoughts, or great philosophies of the modern world. Indians of today seem to be so preoccupied or so satisfied with what is going on here. Inside the country.
May be we seem to imagine that in our day to day living, all that matters is what we do to earn our living. India is a country where not much is happening outside our day to day preoccupations, be it politics or industry or the corporate world. Or, outside the all India level happenings, in politics and the media we seem to be concerned with the schools, the colleges and the universities.
Take a field like education. Even here, we are more concern about the schools, may be in colleges. When it comes to the universities not much is happening or happened in recent times.
Our universities are pathetically outside the international rankings. With not one university in the first 100 list, not even in the top ten and do we have any agitation of mind or any other troubles inside our minds?
Do such questions mater?
Where are the Indian intellectuals?
Anyway, I am the one who is asking this question and that is what matters here.
I am reading the Times Literary Supplement(TLS)regularly and I read this journal(for Indian readers of the general types I want to state here that TLS is a leading literary criticism magazine that is published from London for some hundred or more years. I started reading this journal since my Oxford days and that is now something like more than half a century).
In the current issue before me(TSL February 28 2014)there is a brief review of Martha Nussbaum’s latest book, Political Emotions, Why love matters for justice(480 pages, Harvard University Press).Such a book ,a heavyweight subject is very likely to go out of the attention of most Indian university men, I imagine.
However, if readers who are following such topics like ethics, philosophy or political philosophy what Nussbaum says would matter terribly important and even very timely indeed.
Here what the author means by love, in my view, seems to matter what we would call the ethical good, she says:”Love means seeking a good outside oneself”
Love is a word that is a very complex one. Love could mean many things to many persons.
For those who are religious minded or ethical minded, love means universal love, it is God’s love for fellow human beings, and it is divine love and says whatever comes to your mind!
Love is a feeling of deep commitment to universal good, universal peace and goodwill and it means tolerance, loving our neighbours, why even distant ones.
Love is a powerful human sentiment. Nussbaum also talks of love as social justice.
The point is that we, all students of philosophy (I was one in my university time) know that Aristotle’s Ethics, postulates a detached rationality.
From Aristotle to our own day(we at Oxford studied G.E.Moore’s Principia Ethical as our basic text, though by the time I arrived there in 1959,there were other philosophies that had overtaken Moore’s rigorous definition of what is Good!
It is all so tough even in our time and now, more so, considering the progress that has been made in philosophy and related fields.
In my time, we were all so excited by our professor of philosophy, namely Prof.Alfred Julus Ayer (A.J.Ayer) whose “Language, Truth and Logic” went to the extreme of making unprovable theses simply as “Nonsense”.
We were into the so-called linguistic philosophy where ordinary words carried so much weight and we all became overnight, so to say, Logical Positivists!
I don’t dare to imagine that I had made any further progress in all these years of studying and learning more and more about what is phoning in philosophy.
I am sure much is happening in philosophy. The Oxford University Department of Philosophy is good enough to think me somehow as one who has some links with my course there so many years ago and they keep posting me their latest quarterly magazine without fail. I am so much grateful to them and I am benefitting much by reading their updates.
Now it seems to be the religion that is the flavour of the season, so to say and it is nice to think that Nussbaum too seem to think in similar ways.
For she raises so many other issues that to my present knowledge seems to touch upon tolerance, goodwill and love and even our duties of peace and much else.
The point here is that we seem to live in a world where even now, after the end of the two world wars, after some60 years of peace since the second world war, the world seems to have not reached the ideal state of a situation where men in authority, men like Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin seem to develop a cold war like situation and there is the threat to peace.
As I type these lines there is news about Russia sending its troops and occupying the border posts with Crimea where there is a secession group who want Crimea to be declared as a separate state and Russia seems to be opting for this course by using force.
How can this happen in our own time when the world is really weary of any more bloodshed and much suffering already in Syria and in Kenya and other parts.
The same day I read that the Japanese jets are strafing the South China Sea where the Chinese fight jets are also sent over some disputed uninhabited islands.
China is increasing its defence spend, many times, the size of America’s (600 billion, while China’s is 136 billion and India a puny sum of just 36 billions).
Peoples of the world have some duty to understand the issues.
Intellectuals of the various countries, developed and developing also have duty to understand and ask questions and impress the policy makers, decision makers.
Unfortunately, there are not enough voices or faces in India from the university portals.
India has a very peculiar situation today. What little we have as intellectuals are all living abroad, Indians specially feel comfortable and secular in the USA and some in UK. But then India has its own changing equations with these two countries in particular.
UK is a former ruler of Indian continent and so it carries a baggage of accumulated prejudices and illusions. The British press is strongly prejudiced, as we see every day.
The dominant publications don’t report issues objectively and they in particular don’t see the world as it is evolving.
The USA on the other hand has its own prejudices, especially after Obama, this tilt; this twist is becoming more and more in a peculiar cold war of its own.
The Kobhergade affair is the latest twist to this tangled relationship.
So, we in India see, even our own ethnic intellectuals on the American pay, so to say, are not forthcoming when it comes to Indian intellectual issues, Indian perceptions and the more sensitive issues like ethics, politics and economics and now in such mundane issues like trade, patents and even pharmaceuticals, clinical trials and a host of issues where the Americans feel prickly for various subjective reasons.
So, how can you expect our ethnic Indian intellectuals, those based on the American soil can come and see the Indian points of view?
Unfortunately, inside India, we have weak leadership, weak vision and much distorted priorities, be it politics (the most critical) and academics or the higher reaches of new thinking and debates.
Of course, Nussbaum has much to say on sustaining democratic institutions action which we have much to say later.