In theory, at least, we might achieve a certain sort of invulnerability right at the end of life. Suppose that under favorable circumstances we can live a certain number of years, say 125, but no longer, and also that we can make life as a whole better and better over time. Under these assumptions we might hope to disarm death by spending 125 years making life as good as it can be. If we were lucky enough to (...) accomplish that, afterwards we would be immune to mortal harm. Especially for those who are closer to the beginning of life than to the end, however, this strategy leaves much to be desired. It is like devouring an entire banquet so as to eliminate the danger of someone stealing it from us. Like a feast, a good life is safely ours after it is over, but then safety comes too late to be of any use to us. To be of practical value, we need protection from mortal harm much earlier in life. (shrink)
Cresp, Mary Some months ago while driving I heard an interview with writer Alan Moore on the radio and was so captured by his comments about trends in modern society that I had to pull over to the side of the road and stop to concentrate on what he was saying. I ordered his book, No Straight Lines, and found he presents an inspiring plea for a more human-centric world, more able organisations and more vibrant and equitable economies relevant to (...) the world we live in today. His descriptions so correspond with my experience that, although the changes in ReligiousLife over the past fifty years are often seen as something that occurred only in church circles, I conclude that they are part of a world-wide search for ways to serve humanity better, to search for meaning in the work people do and to find viable alternatives for the ways that things were done in the past. Because my immediate experience of ReligiousLife is confined to the Sisters of St Joseph, my comments are framed around that experience. However, through interaction with members of other Congregations, I know their journey parallels that of Josephites in many respects. (shrink)
Challenging a long-standing assumption of the separation of ethical from poetic activity, this essay develops the basis for a theory of moral life as inherently and radically creative. A range of contemporary post-Kantian ethicists--including Ricoeur, Nussbaum, Kearney, and Gutiérrez--are employed to make the argument that moral practice requires a fundamental capability for creative transformation, imagination, and social renewal. In addition, this poetic moral capability can finally be understood only from the primordial religious point of view of the mystery (...) of Creation as such. Humanity as an image of its Creator is called to the endless impossible possibility of the re-creation of its own complex, plural, and fallen social world. Such a perspective is opposed to views of moral life as the application of law-like principles or the recovery of past moral histories. Without a better understanding of moral life's radically creative imperative, we miss a vital element of social relations' distinctive humanity. (shrink)
This essay seeks to contribute to our understanding of William James's ethics by reexamining a classic text— The Varieties of Religious Experience—that is not usually read in an ethical light. It shows that James develops an ethics of human flourishing in Varieties, which he grounds in a "piecemeal supernaturalist" cosmology and account of human nature. It also shows that, under the terms of James's view, religious and ethical issues are fundamentally interconnected, and leading a religiouslife (...) is a necessary (though not a sufficient) condition of maximal human flourishing. Overall, I show that for James the highest degree of human flourishing can be achieved only through the experience of metaphysical intimacy, or the self's harmonious relationship or unification with "a wider self.". (shrink)
In Science and Religious Anthropology: A Spiritually Evocative Naturalist Interpretation of Human Life, Wesley J. Wildman has awakened work in religious anthropology to a new day and a new kind of light. No one who works in religious anthropology, or in religion and science studies more generally, should be taken seriously who has not read, digested, and contended with Wildman’s work. Indeed, if one is looking for an education in genuine interdisciplinarity, in rigorous scholarly analysis and (...) argumentation, and in the ways in which academic theology, religious studies, and the scientific study of religion can mutually inform one another, Wildman’s book is the ideal school. Wildman carefully analyzes, creatively .. (shrink)
Anne Warfield Rawls argues that, although Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religion is the crowning achievement of his sociological accomplishments, it has been consistently misunderstood. Rather than a work on primitive religion or the sociology of knowledge, Rawls asserts that Durkheim's analysis represents an attempt to establish a unique epistemological basis for the study of sociology and moral relations. Based on detailed analysis of the primary text, this book will be an important and original contribution to contemporary debates on social (...) theory and philosophy. (shrink)
The aim of this book is simple: to invite readers to consider what it means to lead a good life, and to offer practical advice, based on the Buddhist teachings, as to how this can be accomplished. In each of more than thirty brief essays, Master Hsing Yun treats a specific moral or ethical issue, using quotations from the rich treasury of the Buddhist scriptures as a point of departure for his discussion. Among the topics he considers are control (...) of the body and of speech, overcoming greed, ending anger, patience under insult, how to manage wealth, how to get along with others, what it means to practice Buddhism, and the blessings and joys of that practice. The Buddhist precepts are introduced as guideposts along this path of liberation, and friendship, gratitude, and service to others are presented as essential elements of a common quest to discover and to embody our innate goodness and humanity. (shrink)
Introduction Atheism is a minority position in today’s world. At least in the parts of the globe accessible to pollsters, most people believe in God. The rate of theism has little to do with the level of scientific or technological development of the society in question. Consider, for example, the United States, where, despite the country’s constitutional commitment to the “separation of church and state,” most institutions of daily life are infused with theism.1 U.S. coins carry the proclamation (...) “In God We Trust,” sessions of the U.S. Congress are opened with a prayer offered by the official congressional chaplain, and national and civic leaders routinely invoke the name of God in campaign and policy speeches. (shrink)
This paper argues that in Augustine rationality in religion depends in important respects on religious social practice. This point is developed in reference to the questions of the reasonableness of a commitment to a particular religion, the meaningfulness of religious terms and concepts, and the truth and falsity of religious claims. In a concluding section, I contend that Augustine, while giving rationality in religion a basis in religious practice. succeeds in avoiding the tendency, found in some (...) otherwise similar contemporary positions. to sever rationality in religion from rationality in other domains of inquiry. (shrink)
Initial sketch of a concept of faith -- Facets of faith -- Faith and knowledge -- Faith and scientific knowledge -- Faith and morality -- Secular forms of faith -- Crises of faith -- My personal journey of faith.
Machine generated contents note: Introduction Marcia J. Bunge; Part I. Religious Understandings of Children and Obligations to Them: Central Beliefs and Practices: 1. The concept of the child embedded in Jewish law Elliot N. Dorff; 2. Children's spirituality in the Jewish narrative tradition Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; 3. Christian understandings of children and obligations to them: central Biblical themes and resources Marcia J. Bunge; 4. Human dignity and social responsibility: Catholic Social Thought on children William Werpehowski; 5. Islam, children, and (...) modernity - a Qur'anic perspective Farid Esack; 6. Linking past and present: educating Muslim children in diverse cultural contexts Lily Zakiyah Munir and Azim Nanji; 7. Imagining childism: how childhood should transform religious ethics John Wall; 8. Talking about childhood and engaging children: a Christian perspective on interfaith dialogue Nelly Van Doorn-Harder; Part II. Specific Responsibilities of Children and Adults: Selected Contemporary Issues and Challenges: 9. Will I have Jewish grandchildren?: Cultural transmission and ethical concerns among ethnoreligious minorities Sylvia Barack Fishman; 10. Muslim youth and religious identity: classical perspectives and contemporary challenges Marcia Hermansen; 11. Honor your father and your mother: a Christian perspective in dialogue with contemporary psychological theories Annemie Dillen; 12. Work, play, labor, and chores: Christian ethical reflection on children and vocation Bonnie Miller-McLemore; 13. Orphans and adoption: Biblical themes, Christian initiatives, and contemporary ethical concerns Keith Graber Miller; 14. Second-hand children: a Jewish ethics of foster care in an age of desire Laurie Zoloth; 15. Christianity's mixed contributions to children's rights: traditional teachings, modern doubts Don Browning and John Witte, Jr; 16. Children's rights in modern Islamic and international law: changes in Muslim moral imaginaries Ebrahim Moosa; Appendix I. Selected primary texts; Appendix II. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; Index of names; Index of subjects. (shrink)
This paper discusses the concept of Dána or charity as the foundation of Indian Social life. Dána has been in vogue in India since the Vedic times, but it was codified by the smritis which prescribe do’s and don’ts of the life of the individual. Limiting its scope to Yagnavalkya smriti the paper analyses the significance of Dána as a regulative principle of accumulation of wealth.
The culmination of William James' interest in the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience approached the study of religious phenomena in a new way -- through pragmatism and experimental psychology. The most important effect of the publication of the Varieties was to shift the emphasis in this field of study from the dogmas and external forms of religion to the unique mental states associated with it. Explaining the book's intentions in a letter to a friend, James (...) stated: "The problem I have set myself is a hard one: first, to defend...'experience' against 'philosophy' as being the real backbone of the world's religiouslife...and second, to make the hearer or reader believe what I myself invincibly do believe, that, although all the special manifestations of religion may have been absurd (I mean its creeds and theories), yet the life of it as a whole is mankind's most important function." Drawing evidence from his own experience and from such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, John Bunyan, and Jonathan Edwards, The Varieties of Religious Experience remains one of the most influential books ever written on the psychology of religion. (shrink)
In recent years feminist scholarship has increasingly focused on the importance of the body and its representations in virtually every social, cultural, and intellectual context. Many have argued that because women are more closely identified with their bodies, they have access to privileged and different kinds of knowledge than men. In this landmark new book, Paula Cooey offers a different perspective on the significance of the body in the context of religiouslife and practice. Building on the pathbreaking (...) work of Elaine Scarry in The Body in Pain, Cooey looks at a wide range of evidence, from the Argentine prison narrative of Alicia Partnoy, to the novels of Toni Morrison and the paintings of Frida Kahlo. Drawing on current social theory and critique, cognitive psychology, contemporary fiction and art, and women's accounts of religious experience, Cooey relates the reality of sentience to the social construction of reality. Beginning with an examination of the female body as a metaphor for alternative knowledge, she considers the significance of physical pain and pleasure to the religious imagination, and the relations between sentience, sensuality, and female subjectivity. Cooey succeeds in bringing forward a sophisticated new understanding of the religious importance of the body, at the same time laying the foundations of a feminist theory of religion. (shrink)
This book provides philosophical grounds for an emerging area of scholarship: the study of religion and dance. In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religiouslife. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the (...) study of “religion,” on the one hand, and “theology,” on the other.In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religiouslife, and on the place of theology in the study of religion. (shrink)
What kind of duty do we have to try to stop other people doing wrong? The question is intelligible in just about any culture, but few of them seek to answer it in a rigorous fashion. The most striking exception is found in the Islamic tradition, where 'commanding right' and 'forbidding wrong' is a central moral tenet already mentioned in the Koran. As an historian of Islam whose research has ranged widely over space and time, Michael Cook is well placed (...) to interpret this complex subject. His book represents the first sustained attempt to map the history of Islamic reflection on this obligation. It covers the origins of Muslim thinking about 'forbidding wrong', the relevant doctrinal developments over the centuries, and its significance in Sunni and Shi'ite thought today. In this way the book contributes to the understanding of Islamic thought, its relevance to contemporary Islamic politics and ideology, and raises fundamental questions for the comparative study of ethics. (shrink)
The American Buddhist nun and author of the best-selling When Things Fall Apart counsels readers on how to live compassionately and well during times of instability, demonstrating the use of the Three Commitments practice to promote ...
In Taking the Path of Zen , Robert Aitken provided a concise guide to zazen (Zen meditation) and other aspects of the practice of Zen. In The Mind of Clover he addresses the world beyond the zazen cushions, illuminating issues of appropriate personal and social action through an exploration of the philosophical complexities of Zen ethics. Aitken's approach is clear and sure as he shows how our minds can be as nurturing as clover, which enriches the soil and benefits the (...) environment as it grows. The opening chapters discuss the Ten Grave Precepts of Zen, which, Aitken points out, are "not commandments etched in stone but expressions of inspiration written in something more fluid than water." Aitken approaches these precepts, the core of Zen ethics, from several perspectives, offering many layers of interpretation. Like ripples in a pond, the circles of his interpretation increasingly widen, and he expands his focus to confront corporate theft and oppression, the role of women in Zen and society, abortion, nuclear war, pollution of the environment, and other concerns. The Mind of Clover champions the cause of personal responsibility in modern society, encouraging nonviolent activism based on clear convictions. It is a guide that engages, that invites us to realize our own potential for confident and responsible action. (shrink)