Martha Nussbaum on culture, gods, fail and tolerance

Giles Fraser on Martha Nussbaum:

Why, she once asked in a brilliant essay entitled “Love’s Knowledge”, do the gods of the ancient world often fall in love with human beings? Why would they prefer mortals to immortals? It is precisely because human beings are able to fail, she argues, that they are able to manifest so many attractive qualities.

(…)

The reason why the US is better-placed than Europe to deal with its own tendency towards religious intolerance is that “the US has always understood itself to be united around political principles and not around culture, whereas the nations of Europe have a much more traditional conception of nationhood that is connected to romanticism, which thinks of religion and culture as ingredients of nationhood.”

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