A monthly event featuring debates, talks, interviews, music and film. LIVE.


IAI Live January: Loving Oneself and Loving Others

Martha Nussbaum

Join us on January 8th for a celebration of debates, solo talks and music from the world leaders in their field. We are pleased to announce Martha Nussbaum will be joining us for the first time to give a solo talk on her groundbreaking new work in the need for an ethical awakening.

And don't miss out beforehand on our main debate Loving Oneself and Loving Others on the dangers and virtues of altruism after one of our distinguished panellists discusses their work in our opening interview. Panellists and music to be announced soon!

From charity-givers, to those who sacrifice themselves in war for others, we see altrusim and selflessness as virtues to be applauded. Those who take no heed of their own interests are highly praised in Western culture. But many point to a danger. Studies show that altruism gone awry leads to tolerating abusive partners, eating disorders and depression. And critics argue that some of history's most horrific episodes rose from appeals to altruistic tendencies. Forced sterlizations in the West were justified as "better for all the world". And Hitler opined, “When I appeal . . . for sacrifice, the first spark is struck”.

Should we see unhampered altruism not only as futile, but actively dangerous? Are these virtues merely a device to defend outcomes we think beneficial for ourselves and exert power over others?  Or is selflessness in fact vital and would relegating it to secondary status only see more corruption and self-absorption in society?