For only the second time the Asturias jury has decided to award its 2012 Social Sciences prize to a woman, American philosopher Martha Nussbaum.
The 64-year old is a specialist in Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics, who has written widely on gender and sexual issues.
In her 30s she coverted to Judaism and her interest in this religion deepened with time, as did her engagement with sexual politics following tough years in American academia when she struggled to gain tenure, despite becoming Harvard’s first female Junior Fellow.
An author of many books, she has developed a brand of feminism that takes inspiration from liberal values but also insists liberalism rethink its attitudes to gender and family relations.
She can be scathing with some sacred cows; she has said Derrida is “not worth studying” and is dismissive of many scholars poor knowledge of “non-western” cultures. Postmodernism is binned, even though she hails Michel Foucault for writing the movement’s “only truly important work”.
She has also coined the term the “politics of disgust” for the methods and practices used by all those activists opposing equal rights for the lesbian, gay and transgender community, and, indeed, for opponents of feminism.
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