Martha C. Nussbaum wins $1 million Berggruen Prize

The Berggruen Institute called her “one of the world’s leading public philosophers.”
December 11, 2018
Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum. Photo courtesy of Martha Nussbaum.

Martha C. Nussbaum, a multidisciplinary scholar with wide public reach, received the 2018 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, which carries a cash award of $1 million, on December 10.

The Berggruen Institute describes the award as recognizing “thinkers whose ideas have helped us find direction, wisdom, and improved self-understanding in a world being rapidly transformed by social, technological, political, cultural and economic change.”

The institute called Nussbaum “one of the world’s leading public philosophers,” highlighting her recent work contributing to the United Nations Human Development Index, expanding concern from increasing income to considering human capacities, life expectancy, and education.

“By challenging us to look closely at the capability of humans, as well as our emotions, she has given us strategies for hope and connectivity,” said Nicolas Berggruen, institute founder and chairman, in a statement. 

Nussbaum—who teaches law, philosophy, and ethics at the University of Chicago—most recently authored Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement, Romance, Wrinkles, and Regret (with Saul Levmore, 2017) and The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis (2018). 

In a Christian Century review of Nussbaum’s 2012 book The New Religious Intolerance, about Islamophobia in the United States, Walter Brueggemann wrote that “she compellingly combines erudite critical analysis with intense moral passion” and “summons us not to abdicate responsibility in the face of programmed hysteria.”

A version of this article, which was edited December 27, appears in the print edition under the title “People: Martha C. Nussbaum.”