Challenging previous interpretations of Levinas that gloss over his use of the feminine or show how he overlooks questions raised by feminists, Claire Elise Katz explores the powerful and productive links between the feminine and religion in Levinas’s work. Rather than viewing the feminine as a metaphor with no significance for women or as a means to reinforce traditional stereotypes, Katz goes beyond questions of sexual difference to reach a more profound understanding of the role of the feminine in Levinas’s (...) conception of ethical responsibility. She combines feminist interpretations of Levinas with interpretations that focus on his Jewish writings to reveal that the feminine provides an important bridge between his philosophy and his Judaism. Katz’s reading of Levinas’s conception of the feminine against the backdrop of discussions of women of the Hebrew bible points to important shifts in contemporary philosophy toward the creation of life and care for the other. (shrink)
MacDonald argues that a suite of genetic and cultural adaptations among Jews constitutes a “group evolutionary strategy.” Their supposed genetic adaptations include, most notably, high intelligence, conscientiousness, and ethnocentrism. According to this thesis, several major intellectual and political movements, such as Boasian anthropology, Freudian psychoanalysis, and multiculturalism, were consciously or unconsciously designed by Jews to promote collectivism and group continuity among themselves in Israel and the diaspora and undermine the cohesion of gentile populations, thus increasing the competitive advantage of Jews (...) and weakening organized gentile resistance. By developing and promoting these movements, Jews supposedly played a necessary role in the ascendancy of liberalism and multiculturalism in the West. While not achieving widespread acceptance among evolutionary scientists, this theory has been enormously influential in the burgeoning political movement known as the “alt-right.” Examination of MacDonald’s argument suggests that he relies on systematically misrepresented sources and cherry-picked facts. It is argued here that the evidence favors what is termed the “default hypothesis”: Because of their above-average intelligence and concentration in influential urban areas, Jews in recent history have been overrepresented in all major intellectual and political movements, including conservative movements, that were not overtly anti-Semitic. (shrink)
This article first describes some of the chief contrasts between Judaism and American secularism in their underlying convictions about the business environment and the expectations which all involved in business can have of each other—namely, duties vs. rights,communitarianism vs. individualism, and ties to God and to the environment based on our inherent status as God’s creatures rather than on our pragmatic choice. Conservative Judaism’s methodology for plumbing the Jewish tradition for guidance is described and contrasted to those of (...) Orthodox and Reform Judaism.One example of how Conservative Judaism can inform us on a current matter is developed at some length—namely, privacy in the workplace. That section discusses (1) the reasons for protecting privacy; (2) protection from intrusion, including employer spying; (3) protection from disclosure of that intended to remain private; (4) individualistic vs. communitarian approaches to grounding the concern for privacy; and (5) contemporary implications for insuring privacy in business. (shrink)
The doctrine of reincarnation is usually associated with Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions. But it has also been developed in Druzism and Judaism. The doctrine has been used by these traditions to explain the existence of evil within a moral order. Traversing the boundaries between East and West, we explore how Jewish mysticism has employed the doctrine to help answer the problem of evil. We explore the doctrine particularly as we respond to objections against employing it in a (...) theodicy. We show how it supplements traditional punishment, free will and soul-building theodicies, and helps these theodicies avoid various objections. (shrink)
The topic of this book is 'creation'. It breaks down into discussions of two distinct, but interrelated, questions: what does the universe look like, and what is its origin? The opinions about creation considered by Norbert Samuelson come from the Hebrew scriptures, Greek philosophy, Jewish philosophy, and contemporary physics. His perspective is Jewish, liberal, and philosophical. It is 'Jewish' because the foundation of the discussion is biblical texts interpreted in the light of traditional rabbinic texts. It is 'philosophical' because the (...) subject matter is important in both past and present philosophical texts, and to Jewish philosophy in particular. Finally, it is 'liberal' because the authorities consulted include heterodox as well as orthodox Jewish sources. The ensuing discussion leads to original conclusions about a diversity of topics, including the limits of human reason and religious faith, and the relevance of scientific models to religious doctrine. (shrink)
The writings of Martha Nussbaum broadly defend an account of transcendence as internal, always rooted in the human context. Her account implies that any and all projects of normative theological ethics are superfluous, since they transcend the natural bounds of human experience and reason. This essay points toward a space for theology, specifically Jewish theology, in Nussbaum's work, through an analysis of her recent philosophical and autobiographical writings on Judaism. Nussbaum's account in Upheavals of Thought associates Judaism with (...) carnality and vulnerability; this essay supplements her account by pointing to a non-natural origin of emotional judgments in some of the texts Nussbaum treats. This move serves to temper the emphasis on autonomy in liberal Jewish thought, and provides an account of transcendence which can serve as the basis of a more traditional Jewish theological ethics. (shrink)
This book breaks new ground in the study of Judaism, in philosophy, and in comparative ethics. It demonstrates that the assumption that Judaism has no natural law theory to speak of, held by the vast majority of scholars, is simply wrong. The book shows how natural law theory, using a variety of different terms for itself throughout the ages, has been a constant element in Jewish thought. The book sorts out the varieties of Jewish natural law theory, illuminating (...) their strengths and weaknesses. It also presents a case for utilising natural law theory in order to deal with current theological and philosophical questions in Judaism's ongoing reflection on its own meaning and its meaning for the wider world. David Novak combines great erudition in the Jewish tradition, the history of philosophy and law, and the imagination to argue for Judaism in the context of current debates, both theoretical and practical. (shrink)
Lenn Goodman argues forcefully that the Jewish tradition has a significant contribution to make to the general discourse on ethical issues. His goal in this book is to seek within the Jewish tradition, and in its interaction with other currents of Western thought, the foundations on which to build - without recourse to the privilege of "revelation" - public ethical theory.
Abstract. Darwinism has attracted proportionately less attention from Jewish thinkers than from Christian thinkers. One significant reason for the disparity is that the theodicies created by Jews to contend with the catastrophes which punctuated Jewish history are equally suited to address the massive extinctions which characterize natural history. Theologies of divine hiddenness, restraint, and radical immanence, coming together in the sixteenth-century mystical cosmogony of Isaac Luria, have been rehabilitated and reworked by modern Jewish thinkers in the post-Darwin era.
The fundamental message of Jewish thought in Levinas' version can be summarized by the following quote: It ties the meaning of all experiences to the ethical relation among humans; it appears to the personal responsibility of man, who, thereby, knows himself irreplaceable to realize a human society in which humans treat one another as humans. This realization of the just society is ipso facto an elevation of man to the society with God. This society is human happiness itself and the (...) meaning of life. Therefore, to say that the meaning of the real must be understood in function of ethics, is to say that the universe is sacred. But it is sacred in an ethical sense. Ethics is an optics of the divine. No relation to God is more right or more immediate.The Divine cannot manifest itself except through the neighbor. For a Jew, incarnation is neither possible, nor necessary. After all, Jeremiah himself said it: ‘To judge the case of the poor and the miserable, is not that to know me? says the Eternal’. DL 209. The quote at the end is from Jerem. 22:16.The One who is revealed in this ethical religion differs greatly from the almighty and triumphant God whose image dominates any thought in which politics procures the highest perspective. The ‘Master of the world’ is power-less against human violence and sin, vulnerable and persecuted. His passing by is not in the thunderstorm, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire either, but ‘after the fire there was a voice of subtle silence’ (1 Kings 19:11–12). God penetrates the world almost imperceptibly, in extreme humility. AV 211–212 (ECED). Cf. Kierkegaard vivant (Paris: Gallimard 1966), pp. 286–288. (shrink)
Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical (...) philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
Hermann Cohen's Religion of Reason, Out of the Sources of Judaism is widely taken to be the greatest work in Jewish philosophy and religious thought since Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed. It is at once a Jewish book and a philosophical one: Jewish because it takes its material from the literary tradition that extends from the bible to the rabbis to the great medieval philosophers; philosophical because it studies that material in order to construct a worldview that is rational (...) in the broadest sense of the term. This edition reprints a 1972 introduction by Leo Strauss and includes an essay on the work by Steven Schwarzchild. A new introduction by Kenneth R. Seeskin situates Cohen's masterwork in the history of modern philosophical and religious thought. (shrink)
: The following comments on Paul Root Wolpe's article "If I Am Only My Genes, What Am I? Genetic Essentialism and a Jewish Response" address (1) his presentation of the relationship between science and culture or religion as unimodal; (2) his misconception of the Jewish view of the physical corpus; and (3) his essential question of genetic determinism by examining the traditional Jewish view of the spiritual aspects of the human.
The Frankfurt School had a highly ambivalent relation to Judaism. On one hand, they were part of that Enlightenment tradition that opposed authority, tradition, and all institutions of the past -- including religion. They were also, for the most part, secular Jews who did not support any organized religion, or practice religious or cultural Judaism. In this sense, they were in the tradition of Heine, Marx, and Freud for whom Judaism was neither a constitutive feature of their (...) life or work, nor a significant aspect of their self-image and identity. (shrink)
"Neusner moves beyond the interpretation of individual texts to grasp as wholes two systems of Judaism, that of the Mishnah and that represented by Rabbinic documents of the fifth century. He thus provides an entirely fresh approach and a new answer to the central question 'What is Judaism?' At the same time, by providing a sound model for the evaluation and comparison of diverse religious systems, this book has an important place within the study of the history of (...) religions in general."--Alan J. Avery-Peck, author of The Talmud of the Land of Israel: Shebiit An eminent scholar of the history of Judaism, Jacob Neusner shows in this work how Judaism changed from a philosophy to a religion between 200 and 400 C.E. The Transformation of Judaism is a work both revolutionary in its method and unprecedented in its results. Comparing earlier and later sets of Judaic writings, Neusner sets forth how philosophy--abstract, elegant, orderly, and intellectual--turned into religion--tangible, down-to-earth, chaotic, and concrete. In the process, he offers an account of the birth of Judaism that has become normative. Moreover, Neusner's methodology can be applied to the study of religions other than Judaism because it examines the underpinnings of how a society sees the world (philosophy), orders itself (politics), and sustains itself (economics). "This prolific author provides in this book yet another of his clear and scholarly explorations into the nature of Judaism... Scholarly detail does not preclude clarity of style and more general reflection on the character of religion in relation to other modes of thought."--Peter Byrne, Religious Studies. (shrink)
This article approaches Judaism through Rabbi Bradley S. Artson’s book, God of Becoming and Relationships: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology. It explores his understanding of how Jewish theology should and does cohere with central features of both process theology and Robert S. Hartman’s formal axiology. These include the axiological/process concept of God, the intrinsic value and valuation of God and unique human beings, and Jewish extrinsic and systemic values, value combinations, and value rankings.
The purpose of Judaism -- The Exodus-Sinai continuum of Jewish life -- Genesis : Abraham and "the call" -- Exodus : embracing the covenant -- Leviticus : roadmap to a more perfect world -- Numbers : from wilderness to prophecy -- Deuteronomy : how central is God? -- Sinai applied : seven core values of the rabbinic tradition -- The American Jewish community and the public square -- Jews and the struggle for civil rights -- Soviet Jewry : a (...) cause of our own -- Protecting and defending the state of Israel -- What is a Jewish issue? -- Beyond self-interest -- Social justice takes root -- Reconciling Exodus and Sinai -- Conclusion : responding to "the call". (shrink)
Abstract. Biology has been able to systematize and order its vast information through the theory of evolution, offering the possibility of a more engaged dialogue and possible integration with religious insights and emotions. Using Judaism as a focus, this essay examines ways that contemporary evolutionary theory offers room for balancing freedom and constraint, serendipity and intentionality in ways fruitful to Jewish thought and expression. This essay then looks at a productive integration of Judaism and biology in the examples (...) of co-evolution, environmental ethics, the place of humans within nature, the relationship of mind and brains, and the ways that individual and group identity blur. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn Jewish tradition, expectations of the ideal teacher are very high, especially because the teacher is a role model for the next generation. So how does one become an ideal teacher? What is the proper image of a teacher according to Jewish ethics? The present paper is an attempt to answer a series of questions about what makes an ideal teacher based on an analysis of hundreds of texts, including halachic rulings and responsa as well as documents that outline various (...) communities’ guidelines and demands. The Jewish texts make up the ethic mosaic that profiles the ideal teacher, who must work with the students as well as with their families. In view of the importance of the education as it has been understood by arbiters throughout the ages, we can appreciate why there should be zero tolerance for mistakes and inadequacies. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 232 - 255 In Book III of _The Star of Redemption_, Franz Rosenzweig contrasts Judaism and Christianity: Judaism consists in the eternal passage of a people from creation to revelation; it suspends the divide between God’s presence and his worldly manifestation. For Rosenzweig, being Jewish means to be with God in the world. Christianity, however, defers salvation. While Judaism is with God in the world, Christianity retreats from God and the (...) world. Christianity therefore has no “immediacy.” How can both Judaism and Christianity then live in immediacy with God in the world? Seeking to overcome Rosenzweig’s dichotomy, I endeavor to think an immediate relationship with God in the world by turning to one of Rosenzweig’s “biggest names”: Hermann Cohen. Following Cohen, I take it that Judeo-Christian continuity begins before both religions. I wish to explore the passage from the origin to the prophetic that constitutes the idea of a “pure monotheism” in Cohen’s philosophy. (shrink)
This review essay expands on two excellent collections dealing with Nietzsche and Wagner and is drawn from the proceedings of conferences in the bicentennial year of Wagner’s birth. It points to four areas underplayed in the contributions. The first involves Nietzsche’s adoption of Wagnerian ideology, especially anti-Judaism, in the late 1860s and early 1870s. The second deals with Nietzsche’s actual activities and sentiments regarding the inaugural Bayreuth festival in 1876 and his later reports of these activities and sentiments. A (...) third topic concerns the break from Wagner, its likely causes, and its stylization in Nietzsche’s recollections from the 1880s. And lastly the essay examines the ambivalence toward Wagner in Nietzsche’s writings from 1888 as part of an autobiographical imperative. In general, the collections reviewed place too much trust in Nietzsche’s own accounts of the relationship with Wagner and fail to recognize that, especially in the 1880s, the philosopher is engaged in a process of self-fashioning to bring his current views into harmony with a history embellished and manipulated to give the appearance of linear development and consistent beliefs. (shrink)
The scant scholarship associated with Newman’s Anglican views about Judaism has focused on his negative rhetoric against Judaism and portrayed him as anti-Semitic. His Anglican writings, however, applied terms associated with Judaism in a typological sense to the political and religious realities of his day, primarily to support his apologetic agenda and to highlight threats to the Church of England. Simultaneously, he stressed the positive characteristics of Judaism, illustrated the continuity between Judaism and Christianity, and (...) pointed out that the religious system of Judaism was divinely inspired and contained worthy examples for Christian living. (shrink)
One of the central concepts in rabbinic Judaism is the notion of the Evil Inclination, which appears to be related to similar concepts in ancient Christianity and the wider late antique world. The precise origins and understanding of the idea, however, are unknown. This volume traces the development of this concept historically in Judaism and assesses its impact on emerging Christian thought concerning the origins of sin. The chapters, which cover a wide range of sources including the Bible, (...) the Ancient Versions, Qumran, Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, the Targums, and rabbinic and patristic literature, advance our understanding of the intellectual exchange between Jews and Christians in classical Antiquity, as well as the intercultural exchange between these communities and the societies in which they were situated. (shrink)
Is Judaism a religion, a culture, a nationality--or a mixture of all of these? In How Judaism Became a Religion, Leora Batnitzky boldly argues that this question more than any other has driven modern Jewish thought since the eighteenth century. This wide-ranging and lucid introduction tells the story of how Judaism came to be defined as a religion in the modern period--and why Jewish thinkers have fought as well as championed this idea. Ever since the Enlightenment, Jewish (...) thinkers have debated whether and how Judaism--largely a religion of practice and public adherence to law--can fit into a modern, Protestant conception of religion as an individual and private matter of belief or faith. Batnitzky makes the novel argument that it is this clash between the modern category of religion and Judaism that is responsible for much of the creative tension in modern Jewish thought. Tracing how the idea of Jewish religion has been defended and resisted from the eighteenth century to today, the book discusses many of the major Jewish thinkers of the past three centuries, including Moses Mendelssohn, Abraham Geiger, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Zvi Yehuda Kook, Theodor Herzl, and Mordecai Kaplan. At the same time, it tells the story of modern orthodoxy, the German-Jewish renaissance, Jewish religion after the Holocaust, the emergence of the Jewish individual, the birth of Jewish nationalism, and Jewish religion in America. More than an introduction, How Judaism Became a Religion presents a compelling new perspective on the history of modern Jewish thought. (shrink)
The general concern of the paper is to ponder whether religious views inform ethical views? This is explored through the issue of animal rights within Judaism. There is not only a great divergence, even today worldwide, on the realm of freedom that non-humans may enjoy, but historically this group of individuals has been most restricted in their behaviour, and level of value, by the Western religious worldviews. Hence it would be instructive to see to what extent an ethical attitude (...) toward animals is present, or absent, and whether the religious prescriptions are justified by moral reasoning. And where we have found textual basis, as we have here, for taking the moral considerability of animals seriously, the next question is: has our moral sense been informed by a religious tradition? And has this led to changes in our secular understanding of ethical treatment toward animals? Or has there been a moral intuition there all along in humans, which has incidentally been expressed in a religious mode? (shrink)
This book is intended not only for scholars and students in humanities, history (esp. the history of ideas), Jewish studies, philosophy (esp. the history of philosophy), and Christian theology, but also for those concerned with the roots of anti-Semitism and with the need for toleration and intercultural pluralism. Modernity and the Final Aim of History: * Combines the development of German philosophy from the Enlightenment to Idealism, and from Idealism to the revolutionary turning-point of the mid-nineteenth century with the Jewish (...) question; * Shows the close entwining of anti-Jewish prejudices with awareness of the importance of Judaism in the formation of modern thought; * Points out the hopes, obstacles, compromises, and disappointments of Jewish emancipation right up to the appearance of racial anti-Semitism; * Traces the changes in the debate over Judaism from the theological perspective to the philosophical and from the philosophical to that of the economic and naturalistic; * Underlines the dangers to toleration that arise from seeing human history as directed towards a single aim; *Can be used in university courses and seminars, as well as in research groups. (shrink)