How can we, as people and communities with different religions and cultures, live together with integrity? Does tolerance require us to deny our deep differences or give up all claims to truth, to trade our received traditions for skepticism or relativism? Cultural philosopher Lenn E. Goodman argues that we can respect one another and learn from one another's ways without either sharing them or relinquishing our own. He argues that our commitments to our own ideals and norms need not mean (...) dogmatism or intolerance. In this study, Goodman offers a trenchant critique of John Rawls's pervasive claim that religious and metaphysical voices must be silenced in the core political deliberations of a democracy. Inquiry, dialogue, and open debate remain the safeguards of public and personal sanity, and any of us, Goodman illustrates, can learn from one another's traditions and explorations without abandoning our own. (shrink)
Philosophers like to speak of a “Euthyphro Dilemma” pitting divine fiat against a moral realism that soon fades to personal or social preferences. But Plato targets no such dilemma. The Euthyphro hints a complementarity of divine commands with human moral insights. Values are constitutive in ideas of divinity, and monotheism affirms only goodness in God. So, pace James Rachels, worship is not surrender of autonomy, as Saadiah and Maimonides' biblical and rabbinic ethics reveal. Chimneying more fairly models the dialectic of (...) religion with ethics than does the contrived conflict between putatively arbitrary divine commands and presumptively self-certifying human moral creativity. (shrink)
This work is based on the prestigious Gifford Lectures, which Lenn Goodman was invited to deliver in 2005. Goodman was asked to speak about the commandment to 'love thy neighbour as thyself' from the standpoint of Judaism.
Scholars of classical philosophy have long disputed whether Aristotle was a dialectical thinker. Most agree that Aristotle contrasts dialectical reasoning with demonstrative reasoning, where the former reasons from generally accepted opinions and the latter reasons from the true and primary. Starting with a grasp on truth, demonstration never relinquishes it. Starting with opinion, how could dialectical reasoning ever reach truth, much less the truth about first principles? Is dialectic then an exercise that reiterates the prejudices of one's times and at (...) best allows one to persuade others by appealing to these prejudices, or is it the royal road to first principles and philosophical wisdom? In From Puzzles to Principles? May Sim gathers experts to argue both these positions and offer a variety of interpretive possibilities. The contributors' thoughtful reflections on the nature and limits of dialectic should play a crucial role in Aristotelian scholarship. (shrink)
The Torah lays out a rich idea of God’s governance in the Scroll of Esther: Circumstance lays the warp, but human choices weave the woof of destiny. God remains unseen. Delegation of agency, including human freedom, is implicit in the act of creation: God does not clutch efficacy jealously to his breast. Biblically, God acts through nature, making the elements his servitors. Miracles do not violate God’s covenant with nature. Maimonides, following rabbinic homilies, finds them embedded in that covenant. Divine (...) agency is clearest today in evolution and its special case, the emergence of autonomy and the rise of consciousness and personhood. (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.
The Arabic philosophical fable _Hayy Ibn Yaqzan _is a classic of medieval Islamic philosophy. Ibn Tufayl, the Andalusian philosopher, tells of a child raised by a doe on an equatorial island who grows up to discover the truth about the world and his own place in it, unaided—but also unimpeded—by society, language, or tradition. Hayy’s discoveries about God, nature, and man challenge the values of the culture in which the tale was written as well as those of every contemporary society. (...) Goodman’s commentary places _Hayy Ibn Yaqzan _in its historical and philosophical context. The volume features a new preface and index, and an updated bibliography. “One of the most remarkable books of the Middle Ages.”—_Times Literary Supplement_ “An enchanting and puzzling story.... The book transcends all historical and cultural environments to settle upon the questions of human life that perpetually intrigue men.”—_Middle East__ Journal_ “Goodman has done a service to the modern English reader by providing a readable translation of a philosophically significant allegory.”—_Philosophy East and West_ “Add[s] bright new pieces to an Islamic mosaic whose general shape is already known.”—_American Historical Review_. (shrink)
Tracing the course of thought, action, and expression in the golden age of Islamic civilization, L. E. Goodman's Islamic Humanism paints a vivid panorama that departs strikingly from the all too familiar image of Islamic dogma, authoritarianism, and militancy. Among the poets and philosophers, scientists and historians, ethicists and mystics of Islam, Goodman finds a warm and vital humanism, committed to the pursuit of knowledge and to the cosmopolitan values of generosity, tolerance, and understanding. Drawing on a wide range of (...) writings, from love poetry to pietism, to satire, to history and metaphysics, and on to hunting, music and the dance, clothing, politics, and the marketplace, Goodman discloses the rich texture of classical Islamic civilization-its distinctive problematics and the space it left for the talents and creativity of the individual. His philosophic openness and easy familiarity place Islamic humanism securely in its larger context, revealing clearly what is of universa and abiding vitality and interest. In place of stereotypes, suspicions, and unease, Goodman sets out concrete and detailed expositions and explorations of Islamic thought and experience as seen through the eyes of the participants themselves. His engaged but sympathetic readings penetrate beneath the surface of the ancient texts to the humanistic values embraced by some of the greatest thinkers of Islam. As a result, Islamic Humanism does much more than remind us how much we owe to the intellectual achievements of Islamic civilization. The work is a significant contribution to Western understanding of Islam and to Islamic self-understanding of the profoundly humanistic dimensions of the Islamic tradition. (shrink)
Responding to Rawls’ pleas in Political Liberalism against appeals to comprehensive doctrines, be they religious or metaphysical, I argue that such constraints are inherently illiberal—and unworkable. Rawls deems political proposals inherently coercive and judges everyone in a democracy a participant in governance—thus, in effect, complicit in state coercion. He seeks to limit the sweep of his exclusionary rule to core questions of rights. But in an individualistic and litigious society like ours it proves hard to draw a firm boundary around (...) issues that raise core (constitutional) questions. The standards Rawls proposes seem oppressive in effect, their likeliest yield, a kind of doublethink, encouraging many citizens to cloak their deepest normative concerns in neutered language. I worry about the means by which Rawls’ ‘overlapping consensus’ might be attained, and about the exclusion (as metaphysical) of policy proposals in behalf of broadly conceived human goods. I find it suppositious in Rawls to presume the innocence of seemingly secular arguments while placing in the stocks the religious appeals critical to many, along with old and new metaphysical arguments that may seek to bridge the gap between religious and secular appeals. (shrink)
Boldly describing the mind as the idea of the body – and the body as the most immediate object of our thinking – opens the way to a solution of the mind-body problem that Descartes bequeathed to philosophers discontented with substantial forms: Thought and extension, being of different natures, cannot explain one another. But if the mind intends the body, the congruence of mental and physical events makes sense. The order and connection of ideas parallels the order and connection of (...) their objects. So thoughts can address the world; ideas, in fact, can initiate actions. The lively subjectivity and reflectiveness of ideas helps further, in overcoming skepticism, dissolving the barrier between our thinking and its intellectual objects. The causal interconnectedness of natural objects can thus motivate a level of coherence and system among ideas that speaks up for the correspondence of adequate ideas to what they represent. (shrink)
How should we speak of bodies and souls? In _Coming to Mind_, Lenn E. Goodman and D. Gregory Caramenico pick their way through the minefields of materialist reductionism to present the soul not as the brain’s rival but as its partner. What acts, they argue, is what is real. The soul is not an ethereal wisp but a lively subject, emergent from the body but inadequately described in its terms. Rooted in some of the richest philosophical and intellectual traditions of (...) Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology, literature, and the arts and the latest findings of cognitive psychology and brain science—_Coming to Mind_ is a subtle manifesto of a new humanism and an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the human person. Drawing on new and classical understandings of perception, consciousness, memory, agency, and creativity, Goodman and Caramenico frame a convincing argument for a dynamic and integrated self capable of language, thought, discovery, caring, and love. (shrink)