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Meeting Martha Nussbaum with Alan Saunders

In audio, humanities, interview, philosophy on August 31, 2012 at 03:52

 

From: Meeting Martha Nussbaum with Alan Saunders, The Philosopher’s Zone, ABC Radio National, http://www.abc.net.au

Alan Saunders: I’m interested that you talk about the relationship between ritual and the moral life. This is not an obvious connection, I think, that many people would make. They’d think that ritual is just doing one damn thing after the other every day and it is unconnected with morality which involves thought and consideration of what you’re doing.

Martha Nussbaum: Well, you know, I’ve always said and written that emotions are central to the moral life and that if we really reflect about what we are deeply attached to, that’s quite an important part of getting our moral life in order, because we all have deep and passionate attachments to people and things outside of ourselves that we don’t control. And so for me ritual is a time of stepping aside from the busy life with all its distractions. And that I think is a big part of it; it’s just getting into a space of contemplation. But then meditating on the deeper emotional attachments that human life contains: grief and loss and aspiration and joy. And I think ritual sticks around because like a great piece of music – and of course it includes music for me very prominently – it just has that capacity to touch us with the deeper connections and attachments that we have, and I think the shear repetition could, of course, be just rote, but it can also bring back memories. I mean, when you go to a Passover seder I think you think about freedom in a new way because you are remembering your childhood and you are remembering your connections to loved people you have lost. The very fact that you’re back there one year later in the same place with many but not all of the same people helps you think about what you care about.

Listen to the interview & read the transcript

Reposted with permission from: ABC Radio National

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