From Maria Popova’s always interesting column… this one on letters to the next generation… here’s a brief excerpt from Nussbaum’s letter about advice for the next generation:
What’s your advice on developing an inner life?
One of the most poignant letters comes from philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who makes an eloquent case for the importance of cultivating a rich inner life bycelebrating emotional excess as a generative force, embracing vulnerability, not fearing feelings, and harnessing the empathic power of storytelling….
What is the remedy of these ills? A kind of self-love that does not shrink from the needy and incomplete parts of the self, but accepts those with interest and curiosity, and tries to develop a language with which to talk about needs and feelings. Storytelling plays a big role in the process of development. As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves. As we grow older, we encounter more and more complex stories — in literature, film, visual art, music — that give us a richer and more subtle grasp of human emotions and of our own inner world. So my second piece of advice, closely related to the first, is: Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others.