Covenantal Rights is a groundbreaking work of political theory: a comprehensive, philosophically sophisticated attempt to bring insights from the Jewish political tradition into current political and legal debates about rights and to bring rights discourse more fully into Jewish thought. David Novak pursues these aims by presenting a theory of rights founded on the covenant between God and the Jewish people as that covenant is constituted by Scripture and the rabbinic tradition. In doing so, he presents a powerful challenge to (...) prevailing liberal and conservative positions on rights and duties and opens a new chapter in contemporary Jewish political thinking.For Novak, "covenantal rights" are rooted in God's primary rights as creator of the universe and as the elector of a particular community whose members relate to this God as their sovereign. The subsequent rights of individuals and communities flow from God's covenantal promises, which function as irrevocable entitlements. This presents a sharp contrast to the liberal tradition, in which rights flow above all from individuals. It also challenges the conservative idea that duties can take precedence over rights, since Novak argues that there are no covenantal duties that are not backed by correlative rights. Novak explains carefully and clearly how this theory of covenantal rights fits into Jewish tradition and applies to the relationships among God, the covenanted community, and individuals. This work is a profound and provocative contribution to contemporary religious and political theory. (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)
In Defense of Religious Liberty contains David Novak’s vigorous—and paradoxical—argument that the primacy of divine law is the best foundation for a secular, multicultural democracy. Novak presents his claim, which will astound both liberal and conservative advocates of democracy, in political, philosophical, and theological terms. He shows how the universal norms of divine law are knowable as natural law, that they are the best formulations of the human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that their assertion (...) includes an explicit recognition of God as cosmic lawgiver. Furthermore, Novak maintains that the seemingly disparate ideas of divine command, natural law, and human rights can be integrated into one overall political theory. Novak reveals this integration at work in the classical texts of his own Jewish tradition, as well as in the canonical philosophical tradition of the West, from Plato to the Stoics to Grotius to Kant. He also convincingly makes the case that those who reject any legitimate role for religion in discussions of public morality inevitably substitute arbitrary human power for divine command, arbitrary positive law for natural law, and arbitrary governmental entitlements for human rights that exist prior to the establishment of the state. Novak concludes that religious traditions like Judaism, precisely because they incorporate the doctrines of God the cosmic lawgiver, natural law, and human rights, provide the most coherent ontological foundation for democracy in today’s world. (shrink)
Leading contemporary Jewish thinker David Novak has here compiled ten of his essays on a variety of issues in Jewish ethics. Drawing constantly on classical Jewish tradition, Novak also looks at a wide range of modern critical scholarship on the ancient sources. He aims to point out certain common features of Jewish and Christian ethics and the normative implications of this overlapping of traditions; he assumes the reality of a "Judeo-Christian ethic," while refusing to minimize the doctrinal differences between the (...) two traditions. The essays address such major normative issues in social justice as ecology, war and peace, the treatment of minorities, and the approach to AIDS patients. This combination of theoretical reflection and practical application, along with careful and detailed analysis of classical Jewish texts, makes the book a welcome contribution to contemporary ethical theory and normative ethics as well as a work of original Jewish theology. (shrink)
Many studies written about the Jewish-Christian relationship are primarily historical overviews that focus on the Jewish background of Christianity, the separation of Christianity from Judiasm, or the medieval disputations between the two faiths. This book is one of the first studies to examine the relationship from a philosophical and theological viewpoint. Carefully drawing on Jewish classical sources, Novak argues that there is actual justification for the new relationship between Judaism and Christianity from within Jewish religious tradition. He demonstrates that this (...) new relationship is possible between religiously committed Jews and Christians without the two major impediments to dialogue: triumphalism and relativism. One of the very few books on this topic written by a Jewish theologian who speaks specifically to modern Christian concerns, it will provide the groundwork for a more serious development of Jewish-Christian dialogue in our day. (shrink)
This article originally appeared in The Commonweal (October 5, 1962): 31–3. Michael Novak, a graduate student at the time, met Marcel while he was at Harvard University to deliver the William James lectures in the fall of 1961. Those lectures were subsequently printed in the volume, The Existential Background ofHuman Dignity (1963). The article is reprinted here with the kind permission of Michael Novak and the Commonweal magazine.
This essay presents and analyzes the recent work of four prominent contemporary Jewish ethicists: Eugene Borowitz, David Novak, Byron Sherwin, and Walter Wurzburger. These authors are united in their affirmation of covenant as the central category of Jewish moral obligation and their concern to construct a Jewish ethic out of the classical sources of Judaism. Yet, as an individual analysis of their books will show, they adopt markedly different views of the authority of traditional Jewish law , the respective roles (...) of individual and community in moral deliberation, and the degree to which changing historical circumstances alter moral truths. (shrink)
Writing as a philosopher, not as a social scientist, the author takes a radically different approach to the study of criminality, asking not 'what are the causes of crime?' but 'what are the causes of virtue?' Novak concentrates on what builds character and why there is a serious lack of character in our culture and society today.
In his 2001 book, With the Grain of the Universe, Stanley Hauerwas has made an extended case for Karl Barth as the model for how to do Christian ethics, and for Reinhold Niebuhr as the model for how not to do it. Though Barth's closer and deeper theological connection to the Christian tradition appeals to a Jewish traditionalist by analogy, nevertheless, Niebuhr's approach to social ethics, based as it is on a version of natural law, is of greater appeal. That (...) is because it is more philosophically arguable in a secular society and culture, and because it is more politically effective there. It is what made Niebuhr a more effective opponent of Nazism than was Barth. Also, Niebuhr's version of natural law is not a christianized version of Stoic natural law teaching but, rather, a profound use of the biblical prohibition of idolatry, having heretofore unnoticed affinities with rabbinic developments of that prohibition. (shrink)
This paper is a contribution to the development of model theory of fuzzy logic in narrow sense. We consider a formal system EvŁ of fuzzy logic that has evaluated syntax, i. e. axioms need not be fully convincing and so, they form a fuzzy set only. Consequently, formulas are provable in some general degree. A generalization of Gödel's completeness theorem does hold in EvŁ. The truth values form an MV-algebra that is either finite or Łukasiewicz algebra on [0, 1].The classical (...) omitting types theorem states that given a formal theory T and a set Σ of formulas with the same free variables, we can construct a model of T which omits Σ, i. e. there is always a formula from Σ not true in it. In this paper, we generalize this theorem for EvŁ, that is, we prove that if T is a fuzzy theory and Σ forms a fuzzy set , then a model omitting Σ also exists. We will prove this theorem for two essential cases of EvŁ: either EvŁ has logical constants for all truth values, or it has these constants for truth values from [0, 1] ∩ ℚ only. (shrink)
This paper first reviews key Buddhist concepts of time anicca , khanavada and uji and then describes the way in which a particular form of Bhuddist meditation, vipassana, may be thought to actualize them in human experience. The chief aim of the paper is to present a heuristic model of how vipassana meditation, by eroding dispositional tendencies rooted in the body-unconscious alters psychological time, transforming our felt-experience of time from a binding to a liberating force.
This paper is an attempt to develop the many-valued first-order fuzzy logic. The set of its truth, values is supposed to be either a finite chain or the interval 0, 1 of reals. These are special cases of a residuated lattice L, , , , , 1, 0. It has been previously proved that the fuzzy propositional logic based on the same sets of truth values is semantically complete. In this paper the syntax and semantics of the first-order fuzzy logic (...) is developed. Except for the basic connectives and quantifiers, its language may contain also additional n-ary connectives and quantifiers. Many propositions analogous to those in the classical logic are proved. The notion of the fuzzy theory in the first-order fuzzy logic is introduced and its canonical model is constructed. Finally, the extensions of Gödel's completeness theorems are proved which confirm that the first-order fuzzy logic is also semantically complete. (shrink)
In his learned and insightful reading of the eighteenth-century German–Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Gideon Freudenthal clearly wants to rescue him from total irrelevance. For Freudenthal claims that “Mendelssohn’s philosophy of Judaism—and of religion in general—can be defended and, in fact, still deserves contemporary interest” (12). But does Mendelssohn’s philosophy deserve the interest of philosophers who are interested in what is still significant in the present first for themselves and then for everybody else; or perhaps it deserves the interest only of (...) historians of ideas who are interested only in what was significant in the past for those who lived then? (Let it be assumed that a philosopher .. (shrink)
With the passing of disputations between Jewish and Christian thinkers as to whose tradition has a more universal ethics, the task of Jewish and Christian ethicists is to constitute a universal horizon for their respective bodies of ethics, both of which are essentially particularistic being rooted in special revelation. This parallel project must avoid relativism that is essentially anti-ethical, and triumphalism that proposes an imperialist ethos. A retrieval of the idea of natural law in each respective tradition enables the constitution (...) of some intelligent common ground for ethical cooperation in both theory and practice between the traditions. This essay also suggests how the constitution of this common ground could include Muslims as well. The constitution of this common ground enables religious ethicists to present more cogent ethical arguments in secular space, but only of course, when those who now control secular space are open to arguments from members of any religious tradition. (shrink)