Historical Knowledge and Ethical Imagination

Nancy Koppelman, Evergreen State College (2005)

Koppelman draws from insights gleaned from America social history, the philosophy of history, and ethical philosophy. Her intellectual philosophy foregrounds the subjects that hegemonic historical accounts leave out: those of oppressed and marginalized peoples. This is what she calls, “history from the bottom up.”  Nussbaum claims that imagination, narrative, story, and song are essential to an ethical education, since works of art communicate truths of human life that reach across differences and encourage ethical vitality. People are predisposed to appreciate narrative—they are vulnerable, if you will, to its power—because they genuinely need it in order to know who and what they are.

This paper includes a number of case studies drawn from Koppelman’s own curriculum.