Martha Nussbaum Wins $1 Million Berggruen Prize

Martha Nussbaum Wins $1 Million Berggruen Prize

The philosopher and classicist Martha Nussbaum has been named the winner of the 2018 Berggruen Prize, which is awarded annually to a thinker whose ideas “have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.”

The prize, which carries a cash award of $1 million, will be awarded at a ceremony in New York in December.

Dr. Nussbaum, 71, is the author or editor of more than 40 wide-ranging books covering topics including the place of the emotions (including negative ones like disgust) in political life, the nature of human vulnerability, the importance of liberal education and connections between classical literature and the contemporary world.

She is also known for helping to advance the so-called capabilities approach to economic development, which holds that progress should be measured by things like increases in life expectancy and education, rather than simply by increases in income.

Her work, the prize announcement said, “shows how philosophy, far from being merely an armchair discipline, offers a greater understanding of who we are, our place in the world, and a way to live a well-lived life.”

Dr. Nussbaum, a professor at the University of Chicago and one of the most visible philosophers in the United States, has frequently weighed in on subjects of pressing political and legal debate, including same-sex marriage. In “The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis,” published in July and inspired by the election of Donald J. Trump, she revisits themes from her earlier work, looking at how our “animal vulnerability” can both drive us toward cooperation and be used to sow mistrust and division.

Other recent work has hit more personal notes. In “Aging Thoughtfully,” published in 2017, she and the legal scholar Saul Levmore, a colleague at Chicago, traded ruminations on wrinkles, retirement communities, late-life romance and colonoscopies.

The Berggruen Prize was inaugurated in 2016 by the Berggruen Institute, a research organization in Los Angeles dedicated to improving governance and cross-cultural understanding. The first two winners were the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor and the British philosopher Onora O’Neill.

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