Martha Nussbaum Interview by Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers: It did occur to me… that maybe the unintended moral of Hecuba was that by transposing herself into a dog, which the Greeks considered the lowest form of life, but by becoming a dog she relieved herself of all emotions, of all necessity to lead or to make moral choices and with it a certain contentment that comes with being a dumb beast.

Martha Nussbaum: This can happen. When you say to yourself it’s too much to bear, being human, where that means accepting promises from other people, trusting that other people will be good to you, when that is too much to bear, it is always possible to retreat into the thought, “I’ll live for my own comfort, for my own revenge, for my own anger, and I just won’t be a member of society anymore.” Which really means, “I won’t be a human being anymore.”

…You see people doing that today where they feel that society has let them down, they can’t ask anything of it, they can’t put their hopes on anything outside themselves. You see them actually retreating to a life in which they think only of their own satisfaction, and… maybe the satisfaction of their revenge against society. But the life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is, the Greeks wanted to say, not a human life any longer.

Full Interview:–c


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