In the second half of the twentieth century, humanism— namely, the worldview that underpinned Western thought for several centuries—has been severely critiqued by philosophers who highlighted its theoretical and ethical limitations. Inspired by the emergence of cybernetics and new technologies such as robotics, prosthetics, communications, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology, there has been a desire to articulate a new worldview that will fit the posthuman condition. Posthumanism is a description of a new form of human existence in which the (...) boundaries between humans and nature and humans and machines are blurred, as well as a prescription for an ideal situation in which the limitations of human biology are transcended, replaced by machines. The transition from the human condition to the posthuman condition will be facilitated by transhumanism, the project of human enhancement that will ultimately yield the transformation of the human species from the human to the posthuman. As an intellectual movement, transhumanism is still very small, but transhumanist ideas exert deep and broad influence on contemporary culture and society. This essay highlights the religious dimension of transhumanism and argues that it should be seen as a secularist faith: transhumanism secularizes traditional religious themes, concerns, and goals, while endowing technology with religious significance. Science‐Religion Studies is the most appropriate context to explore the cultural significance of transhumanism. (shrink)
. John Caiazza presents the current technoculture as the latest development in the ongoing conflict of science and religion that began with Tertullian in the third century. I argue that his presentation is historically inaccurate, because for most of Western history science and religion interacted with and cross‐fertilized each other. Contrary to Caiazza's misleading presentation, Western thought did not follow the dichotomous model polemically posed by Tertullian. I take issue with Caiazza's portrayal of postmodernism and his claim that technology is (...) the foundation of an inherently secularist culture. I conclude by highlighting certain ethical challenges engendered by the prevalence of new technologies and present the dialogue of science and religion as uniquely qualified to address these challenges. (shrink)
Philip Hefner identifies three settings in which to assess the future of science and religion: the academy, the public sphere, and the faith community. This essay argues that the discourse of science and religion could improve its standing within the secular academy in America by shifting the focus from theology to history. In the public sphere, the science-and-religion discourse could play an important role of promoting tolerance and respect toward the religious Other. For a given faith community (for example, Judaism) (...) the discourse of science and religion can ensure future intellectual depth by virtue of study and ongoing interpretation. The essay challenges the suggestion to adopt irony as a desirable posture for science-and-religion discourse. (shrink)
Menachem Fisch is the Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University. He is also Senior Fellow of the Kogod Center for the Renewal of Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
This article argues that the Judaic understanding of creation care is a potent response to the challenges of the Anthropocene because Judaism acknowledges that humans have much in common with all other created beings, while respecting their alterity, and because Judaism insists on human responsibility toward and care of the created world. However, Jewish environmental ethics of care and responsibility could be greatly enriched if it incorporates the insights of the feminist ethics of care, ecofeminism, and environmental virtue ethics, three (...) discourses to which Jewish environmentalists have paid limited attention so far, even though the secularization of Judaism in the twentieth century has impacted these discourses. (shrink)
Humans have always imagined better futures. From the desire to overcome death to the aspiration to dominion over the world, imaginations of the technological future reveal the commitments, values, and norms of those who construct them. Today, the human future is thrown into question by emerging technologies that promise radical control over human life and elicit corollary imaginations of human perfectibility. This interdisciplinary volume assembles scholars of science and technology studies, sociology, philosophy, theology, ethics, and history to examine imaginations of (...) technological progress that promises to transcend the constraints of human body and being. Attending in particular to transhumanist and posthumanist visions, the volume breaks new ground by exploring their utopian and eschatological dimensions and situating them within a broader context of ideas, institutions, and practices of innovation. The volume invites specialists and general readers to explore the stakes of contemporary imaginations of technological innovation as a source of progress, a force of social and historical transformation, and as the defining essence of human life. Contents Technological Imaginations.- Ethics and Politics of Envisioned Futures.- The Transhumanist Imagination in Context. Target Groups Scholars and students in science and technology studies, philosophy, utopian studies, science and religion The Editors Hava Tirosh-Samuelson is Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism and Director of the Center of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. J. Benjamin Hurlbut is Assistant Professor of Bioscience Ethics in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. (shrink)
Avi Sagi is professor of philosophy at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, and senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. A philosopher, literary critic, scholar of cultural studies, historian and philosopher of halakhah, public intellectual, social critic, and educator, Sagi has written most lucidly on the challenges that face humanity, Judaism, and Israeli society today. As an intertextual thinker, Sagi integrates numerous strands within contemporary philosophy, while critically engaging Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers. Offering an insightful (...) defense of pluralism and multiculturalism, his numerous writings integrate philosophy, religion, theology, jurisprudence, psychology, art, literature, and politics, charting a new path for Jewish thought in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
"This volume [...] presents the work of Novak, a thinker interested in the intersection of traditional Judaism and the modern world, especially how religious Jews can simultaneously exist within the liberal and democratic nation state yet remain separate from its tradition of secularism"--Back cover.
David R. Blumenthal is Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies at Emory University. He has contributed greatly to the growth of Jewish Studies, the place of Judaism in Religious Studies, interreligious dialogue, and the reframing of Judaism in light of the Holocaust, postmodernism, and poststructuralism. For Blumenthal, theology is an ongoing reflection about everything we believe and do in the context of the living tradition.
Why I am a theologian rather than a philosopher -- The Jewish need for theology, commentary -- Through the shadowed valley -- The autonomous Jewish self -- 'Im ba'et, eyma-since you object, let me put it this way.
Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, the Sol and Anne Dorff Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Rector of American Jewish University in Los Angeles, is one of today's leading Jewish ethicists. Writing extensively on the intersection of law, morality, science, religion, and medicine, Dorff offers an authoritative and non-Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law. As a leader in the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, he has shaped the religious practices of Conservative Jews. In serving on national advisory committees and task (...) forces, he has helped to articulate a distinctive Jewish voice on contested bioethical and biomedical issues. An analytic philosopher by training, Dorff has endorsed pluralism, arguing that Jewishness best flourishes in the context of American pluralism, and he has worked closely with non-Jews to advance religious pluralism in America. (shrink)
This volume features Eliezer Schweid's most original essays and an interview with him. Together they express his fundamental outlook: the faith of a secular Jew, articulating responsibility toward one's neighbor, one's people, the world, and God in a secular age.
A foremost authority on Jewish law and ethics, Rabbi J. David Bleich has written extensively on medical ethics, Jewish law and contemporary social issues, and the interface of Jewish law and the American legal system. As the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Jehuda in Manhattan, Rabbi Bleich teaches weekly Talmud classes and lectures on Jewish law and philosophy.
Jewish Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century showcases living Jewish thinkers who produce innovative ideas taking into consideration theology, hermeneutics, politics, ethics, science and technology, law, gender, and ecology.
This volume features the thought and writings of Jonathan Sacks, one of today's leading Jewish public thinkers. It brings together an intellectual portrait, four of his most original and influential philosophical essays, and an interview with him. This volume showcases the work of Sacks, a philosopher who seeks to confront and offer solutions to the numerous problems besetting Judaism and its confrontation with modernity. In addition, the reader will also encounter an important social philosopher and proponent of interfaith dialogue, who (...) articulates how it is possible to cultivate a culture of civility based on the twin notions of the dignity of difference and the ethic of responsibility. Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from September 1991 to September 2013 and a member of the House of Lords since 2009. (shrink)
Lenn E. Goodman is professor of philosophy and as the Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Trained in medieval Arabic and Hebrew philosophy and intellectual history, his prolific scholarship has covered the entire history of philosophy from antiquity to the present with a focus on medieval Jewish philosophy. A synthetic philosopher, Goodman has drawn on Jewish religious sources (e.g., Bible, Midrash, Mishnah, and Talmud) as well as philosophic sources (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian), in (...) an attempt to construct his own distinctive theory about the natural basis of morality and justice. Taking his cue from medieval Jewish philosophers such as Maimonides, Goodman offers a new theoretical framework for Jewish communal life that is attentive to contemporary philosophy and science. (shrink)
The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers showcases outstanding Jewish thinkers who have made lasting contributions to constructive Jewish philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. In this paperback set of the volumes 6-10, the works of Judith Plaskow, David R. Blumenthal, Moshe Idel, Lenn E. Goodman, and Avi Sagi are examined and celebrated.
The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers showcases outstanding Jewish thinkers who have made lasting contributions to constructive Jewish philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. In this paperback set of the volumes 11-15, the works of Elliot R. Wolfson, Menachem Kellner, J. David Bleich, Michael Fishbane, and Norbert M. Samuelson are examined and celebrated.
Michael Fishbane is Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Trained in biblical studies, he also writes constructive hermeneutic theology.
Menachem M. Kellner is an American-born scholar of Jewish philosophy, an educator, and a public intellectual who lives in Israel. For over three decades he taught at the University of Haifa, where he held the Sir Isaac and Lady Edith Wolfson Chair of Jewish Religious Thought as well as several high-level administrative positions. Currently he teaches Jewish philosophy at Shalem College, Israel's first liberal arts college, which seeks to integrate Western and Jewish texts. Trained in ethics and political philosophy, Kellner (...) specializes in medieval Jewish philosophy, arguing that Maimonides' rationalist universalism should serve as the ideal for contemporary Jewish life. Creatively fusing Zionism, modern Orthodoxy, and democracy, his vision of Judaism is open to and engaged with the modern world. (shrink)
Michael L. Morgan is Emeritus Chancellor Professor at Indiana University and the Grafstein Visiting Chair in Jewish Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He has written extensively on ancient Greek philosophy, modern Jewish philosophy, and post-Holocaust theology and ethics.
Norbert M. Samuelson is Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. Trained in analytic philosophy, he has contributed to the professionalization of Jewish philosophy in America and to the field of religion and science.
This anthology reflects on the future of Jewish philosophy in light of the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers (Brill, 2013-2018). The essays assess the academic contribution and cultural importance of Jewish philosophy and offer paths for its future growth.
The Anthropocene denotes the impact of human activity on Earth systems, resulting in mass extinctions of plant and animal species, pollution of oceans, lakes and rivers, and altering of the atmosphere. The Anthropocene signifies the mass control of nature by humans, the erasure of boundaries between humanity and nature, and the threat to human existence by human-made technology. How can biological humans flourish, if their physical environment, the very condition of their existence, is destroyed? What does it mean to thrive (...) as a human in an age when human-made machines threaten to make humanity obsolete? How does human flourishing relate to human history? This essay argues that the monotheistic traditions, and Judaism in particular, offer meaningful religious imaginaries for the Anthropocene because they envision human flourishing as embodied, ecological and historically grounded. In contrast to secular imaginaries, which either declare the “end of nature” or envision the obsolescence of biological humanity, the Judaic religious imaginary honors the interconnectedness and interdependence of all creatures, while recognizing human responsibility toward the well-being of the natural world. Viewing nature as divinely created, and, thus “enchanted” by the divine presence, the Judaic religious imaginary offers a vision of human flourishing based on the ethics of care and responsibility that enables humanity to respond and perhaps even prevent further ecological collapse. (shrink)
The ArgumentThis paper focuses on several Italian Jewish philosophers in the second half of the sixteenth century and the first third of the seventeenth century. It argues that their writings share a certain theology of nature. Because of it, the interest of Jews in the study of nature was not a proto-scientific but a hermeneutical activity based on the essential correspondence between God, Torah, and Israel. While the theology of nature analyzed in the paper did not prevent Jews from being (...) informed about and selectively endorsing the first phase of the scientific revolution, it did render the Jews marginal to it. So long as Jewish thinkers adhered to this theology of nature, Jews could not adopt the scientific mentality that presupposed a qualitative distinction between the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture. (shrink)
This essay relates my life story as a Jewish philosopher who was born and raised in Israel but whose academic career has taken place in the United States. The essay explains how I developed my approach to Jewish philosophy as intellectual history, viewing philosophy as cultural practice. My research evolved over time from preoccupation with medieval and early-modern Jewish philosophy and mysticism to contemporary concerns of feminism, environmentalism, and transhumanism. Through a personal life story, the essay makes the case for (...) doing philosophy in a contextual, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary way, integrating the desire for universality and the commitment for differentiated particularity. Jewish philosophy offers a viable model for the intellectual challenges facing all people in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
This article examines the reasons for the limited interest in environmentalism in Judaism. The author suggests that the reasons are both historical and theological, Jews have been an urban people since the tenth century and they are also people of the book—that is a culture that sees any distraction from scholarly contemplation as less than worthy. However, over the past three decades there has been an interest and this is in response to the claim that the Judeo-Christian tradition is to (...) blame for the environmental crisis. The author challenges the notion that nature can be seen as the base of a core ethic of care pointing out that it is violent and does not care for the weak. The article challenges earth-based spirituality as it has appropriated the kabbalah, particularly the Skehinah and suggests that a misreading underpins this approach. (shrink)