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  1.  32
    Why Does Pain Hurt?: An Inquiry Into the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this essay I argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory, far from supporting a philosophy of metaphysical materialism, actually undermines it. Once this is recognized we see that evolutionary theory, for all its successes (which are considerable), is more limited than is generally supposed in its ability to reveal or explain the ultimate thrust of life.
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  2.  22
    On Progressive Revelation: Some Thoughts.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this very brief piece I suggest the possibility of regarding the Bible as both revealed and fallible, by outlining a theory of revelation that sees it as conditioned by the limitations of those who receive it.
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  3.  20
    In Spirit and Truth: Toward a Theology Without Walls.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Theology Without Walls is a project that seeks to understand the nature of divine reality through an exploration of all the world's religious traditions, without confining itself to any one in particular. In this essay I discuss why theology has traditionally been done within the boundaries of specific traditions and suggest that, in our time, a new, more comprehensive, approach to theology is called for.
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  4.  80
    My Other Myself: Aristotle and the Value of Friendship.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    What constitutes a true human-to-human relationship? What is its importance and value for human life? These are the questions I explore in this talk on Aristotle's philosophy of friendship, originally presented as part of Boston University's Core Curriculum lecture series.
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  5.  18
    Are All Things Permissible?: A Look at Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors".Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this essay I examine the moral message presented in Woody Allen's film, "Crimes and Misdemeanors.".
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  6.  36
    On Eternal Punishment: A Brief Dialogue.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this brief dialogue I consider the humanity and morality of the doctrine of eternal punishment.
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  7.  49
    The Incoherence of Libertarianism.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this essay I argue that the ethical and political position known as libertarianism is logically incoherent and, as such, cannot serve as a sound basis for either political theory or public policy. Given that the libertarian position is frequently used to provide the rationale for many of the economic (if not the social) policies of the right, a recognition of this incoherence is especially relevant to us today.
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  8.  20
    Doing Unto Others: A Phenomenological Search for the Ground of Ethics.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Can we find a phenomenological basis for the ethical 'ought'? This essay addresses this question through a reflection on Husserl's fifth Meditation. In the fifth Meditation Husserl endeavors to show the manner in which I constitute the other through an associative pairing of the other with my own subjectivity. This essay argues that this same associative pairing forces me to acknowledge the other as a person of intrinsic worth insofar as I recognize myself as one. Having acknowledged the intrinsic worth (...)
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  9. The Teleological Suspension of the Ethical: Abraham, Isaac, and the Challenge of Faith.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac. Why? Kierkegaard tells us that God requires of Abraham a "teleological suspension of the ethical." In this essay I explore the meanings of the Ethical, God, and Faith in an effort to make sense of this phrase, and, more broadly, of the biblical story itself.
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  10.  29
    Theology Without Walls: A New Mode of Spiritual Engagement.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Theology Without Walls - or 'trans-religious theology' - is a theological approach dedicated to reflecting upon the nature of divine reality as it may be revealed in any of the world’s religious traditions, without confining itself to any one in particular. In this paper I discuss some of the basic assumptions and implications of the Theology Without Walls project and suggest that this approach to theology, and to religion in general, promises to help resolve antagonisms and divisions that have long (...)
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  11.  35
    When Mountains Cease to Be Mountains: Divine Love and the Sanctification of Desire.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Why do we embark on the spiritual path, and where does it lead? How are our worldly desires transformed on the spiritual journey? These are the questions I take up in this essay. To explore them, I provide a reading of three passages from three spiritual traditions: Buddhist, Taoist, and Christian. By reading these passages together we can use them to illuminate one another and shed light on our subject - as well as recognize a basic commonality among these (and (...)
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  12. Original Sin: The Divergent Doctrines of Augustine and Tillich.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this paper I provide a comparative analysis of Augustine's and Paul Tillich's doctrines of Original Sin. I argue that Augustine's doctrine is deeply flawed in ways corrected for by Tillich.
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  13. On the Complementarity of Judaism and Christianity.Richard Oxenberg - 2017 - Interreligious Insight 15 (2):46-57.
    I write as a Jew who has come to see the Jewish and Christian religious movements as complementary, at least as each may be ideally envisioned. This complementarity does not entail the ‘supersession’ of Judaism or the negation of Judaism. It does not in any way imply that Jews should abandon Judaism. On the contrary, rightly seen it can lead to a greater affirmation of Judaism and of the teachings at Judaism's heart. In this article I discuss the nature of (...)
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  14. The Pledge of Allegiance: A Reading.Richard Oxenberg - 2017 - Political Animal Magazine.
    In the Pledge of Allegiance we pledge our loyalty, not to the United States as it may exist at any particular moment, but to the flag and what it represents: an ideal United States that maintains "liberty and justice for all." When we say the Pledge we commit ourselves to this ideal, and to the ongoing struggle of bringing our actual nation into alignment with it.
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  15. Locke and the Right to (Acquire) Property: A Lockean Argument for the Rawlsian Difference Principle.Richard Oxenberg - 2010 - Social Philosophy Today 26:55-66.
    The purpose of my paper is to show the derivation of what is sometimes called the ‘new liberalism’ (or ‘progressive liberalism’) from the basic principles of classical liberalism, through a reading of John Locke’s treatment of the right to property in his Second Treatise of Government. Locke’s work sharply distinguishes between the natural right to property in the ‘state of nature’ and the societal right to property as established in a socio-economic political system. Whereas the former does not depend on (...)
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  16.  15
    The Spirit and the Ego: A Brief Cognitive Model for the Spiritual Path.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this very brief piece, I outline a way of thinking about spiritual pursuits.
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  17.  56
    Waiting for the Messiah: A Jewish-Buddhist Reflection on Fiddler on the Roof.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this brief essay I reflect upon the character of Jewish spirituality through a meditation on the themes of tradition, love, and loss as they appear in the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof.
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  18. Heidegger, Metaphysics, and Wheelbarrows: A Poetic Introduction to Heidegger's Being and Time (Full Article).Richard Oxenberg - 2001 - Philosophy Now 32:12-14.
    I employ William Carlos Williams' poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow" to provide a non-technical introduction to Heidegger's Being and Time. (Note: This Philpapers entry provides access to the full article.).
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  19.  33
    On Poetry and Philosophy: Healing an Ancient Quarrel.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In the tenth book of the Republic Plato famously writes: "There is an ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy." In this essay I reflect upon this "quarrel" through an analysis of a passage from Dante's Inferno. I conclude by suggesting that, when employed well, poetry and philosophy actually complement one another as a means to deepening our understanding of the profound issues of life.
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  20.  66
    Steps on the Spiritual Ladder: Suffering and Bliss in the Heart of God.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Whence comes suffering? If the divine reality is a reality of bliss, and all is derived from this divine reality, how can suffering arise? Does the reality of God contain suffering? Might suffering be understood as a mode of bliss? These are the questions I take up in this essay. I suggest that the various states of suffering may best be understood as fragments of bliss, progressively resolved as fragmentation is overcome. Spiritual life is the progressive movement from the suffering (...)
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  21.  18
    The Libertarian Error.Richard Oxenberg - 2017 - Political Animal Magazine.
    This article examines the flaw in the libertarian conception of the right to property. It argues that libertarians fail to recognize that, in a settled society, the right to amass property must be qualified and limited by the right of all people - including those without property - to have access to sufficient property for a satisfactory life.
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  22. Bloodthink, Doublethink, and the Duplicitous Mind: On the Need for Critical Thinking in a Just Society.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    "Crooked people deceive themselves in order to deceive others; in this way the world comes to ruin." This quote from a medieval Confucianist expresses the ethical danger of self-deception. My paper examines the psychological proclivity for self-deception and argues that it lies behind much social and interpersonal injustice. I review Hitler's Mein Kampf, as a premiere example of such cognitive duplicity, and Socratic dialectic, as an example of the cognitive hygiene necessary to combat it. I conclude that a robust educational (...)
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  23. My Understanding of the Biblical God: A Brief 'Transreligious' Reflection.Richard Oxenberg - 2015 - Interreligious Insight 25.
    In this brief paper I reflect upon the Bible's portrayal of God as pointing beyond itself toward a notion of divinity many religions can embrace, but one only imperfectly expressed in the biblical portrait itself. I argue that a fuller recognition of the *fallibility* of the biblical portrait can lead us to a deeper and more satisfying appreciation of the Bible itself.
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  24. Evil and the Immaturity of Freedom: An Existential-Ontological Inquiry Into the Heart of Darkness.Richard Oxenberg - 2017 - Interreligious Insight 15 (1):28-26.
    Whence comes the evil will? My paper examines Kant’s notion of radical evil and Kierkegaard’s analysis of sin in order to uncover the existential-ontological dynamic of the evil will. Ultimately, I argue, the evil will arises in response to the anxiety inherent in freedom itself. I conclude with an examination of Kierkegaard’s ‘formula of faith’ as a solution to the dilemma of freedom, and consider the role faith may play in freedom’s moral maturation.
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  25. Retributivism and Outraged Love: A Search for the Heart of Retributive Justice.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind." This quote, often attributed to Gandhi, suggests the illegitimacy of the retributive urge. On the other hand, many feel a strong intuitive sense that "justice must be served" and that violators of justice must be fittingly punished. In this paper I examine the urge for retributive justice and argue that, at its base, it is rooted in a profound desire to have a wrongdoer see the nature of his or (...)
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  26. For Gabriel, on Holiness (a Passover Letter to My 7-Year-Old Son).Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    I was inspired to write this letter by something my 7-year old said about the meaning of holiness. In it I reflect on this meaning, in language and terms a 7-year-old might understand and appreciate.
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  27. Why Computers Are Not Intelligent: An Argument.Richard Oxenberg - 2017 - Political Animal Magazine.
    Computers can mimic human intelligence, sometimes quite impressively. This has led some to claim that, a.) computers can actually acquire intelligence, and/or, b.) the human mind may be thought of as a very sophisticated computer. In this paper I argue that neither of these inferences are sound. The human mind and computers, I argue, operate on radically different principles.
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  28.  96
    On the Mystical Element in Moral Offense: An Existential Inquiry.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Moral violation often takes the form of material harm, which might lead us to suppose that it consists essentially in the harm done. And yet we might suffer the same harm through nature or accident without feeling morally offended. If I lose my property through accident, I suffer harm but no offense. If someone maliciously destroys my property, I am offended. But why? Wherein lies the difference? My essay employs Arthur Schopenhauer’s ethic of egoism and Paul Tillich’s theology of love (...)
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  29. Einstein's Quandary, Socrates' Irony, and Jesus' Laughter: A 'Post-Modern' Meditation on Faith, Reason, Love, and the Paradox of the One and the Many.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    The paradox of 'the One and the Many' might, more generally, be understood as the paradox of relationship. In order for there to be relationship there must be at least two parties in relation. The relation must, at once, hold the parties apart (otherwise they would collapse into unity) while holding them together (otherwise relationship itself would cease). It must do so, further, without itself becoming a third party which would then, itself, need to be related. This paper considers this (...)
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  30. The Atonement: A Transformational Model.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    How does Christ's crucifixion and resurrection help to effect a reconciliation between a human being and God? Traditionally, Christ is said to 'pay the penalty' for human sin, and thus provide 'satisfaction' to God for human trespass. In this article I argue that this juridical interpretation of Christ's atonement is deficient in substantial ways and offer a transformational, or 'mystical,' interpretation in its place.
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  31. The Victims of Totality: Wholism and Totalism in Monotheistic Religion.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    This paper is a reflection on the ethical and spiritual ambiguities of Monotheism. It proceeds through an examination of Thomas Aquinas’ concept of desire and René Girard’s notion of victimage. It is divided into two parts. In the first I examine Thomas’ ideas of desire and goodness in order to develop some key terms and concepts. In the second I employ these terms and concepts in a critique of René Girard’s victimage thesis, in an effort to shed light on the (...)
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  32.  3
    The Legend of the Living Water.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
  33.  24
    The God Who Died on a Cross.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    This is a spiritual-theological reflection on the meaning of the Cross of Christ, in the form of a prose-poetic monologue.
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  34.  25
    Truth and Longing: An Inquiry Into the Epistemology of "Belief".Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    William Alston has written that religious belief is justifiable because it is based upon epistemic practices similar to those justifying belief in sensory facts. In this paper I argue for a different understanding of religious belief. What is called for in religious belief is not affirmation of factual truth-claims but devotion to God. The significance and validity of creedal formulae lie in their capacity to elicit and express such devotion, not in their factual and/or informational character. My paper considers four (...)
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  35.  73
    In Search of the Ontological Argument.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    We can attend to the logic of Anselm's ontological argument, and amuse ourselves for a few hours unraveling its convoluted word-play, or we can seek to look beyond the flawed logic, to the search for God it expresses. From the perspective of this second approach the Ontological Argument might be seen as more than a mere argument - indeed, as something of a contemplative exercise. One can see in the argument a tantalizing attempt to capture in logical form the devotee’s (...)
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  36. Love and Death in the First Epistle of John: A Phenomenological Reflection.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    “Whoever does not love abides in death,” writes John in his first epistle (1Jn 3:10). This statement presents us with a paradox. Death, so we suppose, is precisely that in which one cannot 'abide.' Our first thought is to interpret this as metaphor. John is saying that a life devoid of love is a life somehow like death. But, having never died, how do we know what death is like? My paper explores these questions with the aid of two philosophical (...)
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  37.  94
    The Problem of Despair: A Kierkegaardian Reading of the Book of Job.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    The Book of Job is often read as the Bible's response to theodicy's 'problem of evil.' As a resolution to the logical difficulties of this problem, however, it is singularly unsatisfying. Job's ethical protest against God is never addressed at the level of the ethical. But suggested in Job's final encounter with God is the possibility of a spiritual resolution beyond the ethical. In this paper I examine the Book of Job as a response to the spiritual problem of despair; (...)
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  38.  90
    The Lure of the Advertising Image: A Platonic Analysis.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Sut Jhally begins his essay “Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse” with the following provocative claim: “Advertising is the most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history and its cumulative effects, unless quickly checked, will be responsible for destroying the world as we know it.” Jhally argues that the advertising industry, in fostering an association between human aspiration and desire for consumable goods, creates an artificial demand for such goods that is, at once, far in excess of (...)
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  39.  72
    Philosopher-Kings in the Kingdom of Ends: Why Democracy Needs a Philosophically Informed Citizenry.Richard Oxenberg - 2015 - Philosophy Now 10 (111).
    Question: How do you turn a democracy into a tyranny? Answer (as those familiar with Plato's Republic will know): Do nothing. It will become a tyranny all by itself. The thesis of my paper is that for democracy to sustain itself it must inculcate in its citizens something of the self-transcending moral and intellectual virtues of Plato’s Philosopher-King, who identifies his own personal good with the good of society as a whole. Only thereby can Kant’s ideal of the ‘Kingdom of (...)
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  40.  40
    Toward Jewish-Christian Reconciliation: Some Theological Reflections.Richard Oxenberg - 2009 - Interreligous Insight 7 (4).
    Both Christianity and Judaism have their basis in the Torah, the five central books of the Hebrew Bible that culminate in the revelation at Sinai. This very commonality, potentiality a source of mutual respect and concord, has played itself out, in the two thousand years since the advent of Christianity, in a disastrous rivalry of interpretation. Christians have interpreted their own religion in such a manner as to disallow the separate legitimacy of Judaism. Jews, in response, have often adopted an (...)
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  41.  46
    Caring Beings and the Immanence of Value: An Inquiry Into the Foundations of Interpersonal Morality.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    The demands of interpersonal morality present us with a paradox. They demand that, under certain circumstances, we be willing to sacrifice what we take to be in our own interest out of respect for the legitimate interests of others. But why should we? By what authority does morality make its demands? In this essay I argue that we find that authority within ourselves, immanent to - not necessarily the character - but the fact of our own self-concern.
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  42.  21
    Becoming Heidegger: On the Trail of His Early Occasional Writings, 1910-1927 (Review).Richard Oxenberg - 2008 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (3):pp. 492-493.
    What was Heidegger thinking? Heidegger's own writings suggest that the most fruitful approach to understanding them will be one that seeks to uncover the arché, or roots, of the central concern that motivates them. That they reflect such a central concern is testified to by Heidegger himself. As late as 1966, in an essay entitled "The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking," he writes: "The following text belongs to a larger context. It is the attempt undertaken again and (...)
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  43.  5
    Locke and the Right to Property.Richard Oxenberg - 2010 - Social Philosophy Today 26:55-66.
    The purpose of my paper is to show the derivation of what is sometimes called the ‘new liberalism’ from the basic principles of classical liberalism, through a reading of John Locke’s treatment of the right to property in his Second Treatise of Government. Locke’s work sharply distinguishes between the natural right to property in the ‘state of nature’ and the societal right to property as established in a socio-economic political system. Whereas the former does not depend on the consent of (...)
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  44.  2
    Locke and the Right to Property: A Lockean Argument for the Rawlsian Difference Principle.Richard Oxenberg - 2010 - Social Philosophy Today 26:55-66.
    The purpose of my paper is to show the derivation of what is sometimes called the ‘new liberalism’ from the basic principles of classical liberalism, through a reading of John Locke’s treatment of the right to property in his Second Treatise of Government. Locke’s work sharply distinguishes between the natural right to property in the ‘state of nature’ and the societal right to property as established in a socio-economic political system. Whereas the former does not depend on the consent of (...)
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  45.  1
    Becoming Heidegger: On the Trail of His Early Occasional Writings, 1910-1927. [REVIEW]Richard Oxenberg - 2008 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 46:492-493.
    What was Heidegger thinking? Heidegger's own writings suggest that the most fruitful approach to understanding them will be one that seeks to uncover the arché, or roots, of the central concern that motivates them. That they reflect such a central concern is testified to by Heidegger himself. As late as 1966, in an essay entitled "The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking," he writes: "The following text belongs to a larger context. It is the attempt undertaken again and (...)
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  46. Being-Towards-Life and Being-Towards-Death: Heidegger and the Bible on the Meaning of Human Being.Richard Oxenberg - 2015
    This work is a revised version of my dissertation, originally presented in 2002. It explores questions of God and faith in the context of Martin Heidegger's phenomenological ontology, as developed in Being and Time. One problem with traditional philosophical approaches to the question of God is their tendency to regard God's existence as an objective datum, which might be proven or disproven through logical argumentation. Since Kant, such arguments have largely been dismissed as predicated on a priori assumptions whose legitimacy (...)
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  47. Being-Towards-Death/Being-Towards-Life: Heidegger and Christianity on the Meaning of Human Being.Richard Oxenberg - 2002 - Dissertation, Emory University
    This work explores questions of God and faith in the context of Martin Heidegger's phenomenological ontology, as developed in Being and Time . One problem with traditional philosophical approaches to the question of God is their tendency to regard God's existence as an objective datum, which might be proven or disproven through logical argumentation. Since Kant, such arguments have largely been dismissed as predicated on a priori assumptions whose legitimacy cannot be substantiated. This dismissal has led to a widening divorce (...)
     
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  48.  50
    God, Goodness, and Evil: A Theological Dialogue.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    Can a rational religious faith be maintained in a world full of evils? In this theological dialogue two characters, the skeptical Simon and the man of faith, Joseph, grapple with this question. What follows is a wide-ranging conversation touching on the nature and meaning of morality, God, revelation, the Bible, evil, and the viability of faith itself.
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