When a philosopher writes a book with five abstract nouns in a six-word title, you might justly fear a laboured tome of desiccating logical analysis. When the author is Martha Nussbaum, however, you can be reassured. Nussbaum is one of the most productive and insightful thinkers of her generation, though strangely undervalued in the UK. She combines a philosopher’s demand for conceptual clarity and rigorous thinking with a novelist’s interest in narrative, art and literature.
The idea that unconscious biological forces drive our beliefs and actions would seem to pose a real threat to our free will. We like to think that we make choices on the basis of our own conscious deliberations. But isn’t all that thinking things over irrelevant if our final decision was already written in our genetic code? And doesn’t the whole edifice of personal responsibility collapse if we accept that “my genes made me do it”?
Small thoughts about big subjects; big thoughts about small things; seeds of thought, scatttered to either take root or not; plus short links to longer work. Microphilosophy is the website of the writer Julian Baggini.