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This book of original essays provides a dialogue between four of the most distinguished scholars now working on problems of faith, reason, and skepticism. In their essays, William P. Alston, Robert Audi, Terence Penelhum, and Richard H. Popkin address both the corrosive and the constructive influences of skepticism on Christian and Jewish concepts of faith. The authors treat questions of perennial interest in philosophy of religion: the bases of human knowledge of God, the place of reason in religious belief, the difference between religious beliefs and those based on common sense, and the reconcilability of skepticism with religious belief. In terms of current epistemology, Alston explores the implications of reliabilism for Christian knowledge of God. Audi develops a concept of non-doxastic faith, which contrasts with flat-out beliefs, arguing that such faith can support a full range of Christian attitudes and ethics. Penelhum contends that religious beliefs cannot be defended in the same way as beliefs of common sense, and thus natural theology is essential. Popkin demonstrates, in a richly historical study, that Jewish skepticism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was used and can be used to neutralize questionable metaphysical theology while leaving a mysticism and spirituality without creed or institution. The essays are preceded by an Editorâ€™s Introduction and the volume concludes with a unifying dialogue between the four authors.
Essays in Friendship and in Truth
In his explorations of the relations between the sacred and violence, René Girard has hit upon the origin of culture — the way culture began, the way it continues to organize itself. The way communities of human beings structure themselves in a manner that is different from that of other species on the planet.
Like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, Martin Buber, or others who have changed the way we think in the humanities or in the human sciences, Girard has put forth a set of ideas that have altered our perceptions of the world in which we function. We will never be able to think the same way again about mimetic desire, about the scapegoat mechanism, and about the role of Jewish and Christian scripture in explaining sacrifice, violence, and the crises from which our culture has been born.
The contributions fall into roughly four areas of interpretive work: religion and religious study; literary study; the philosophy of social science; and psychological studies.
The essays presented here are offered as "essays" in the older French sense of attempts (essayer) or trials of ideas, as indeed Girard has tried out ideas with us. With a conscious echo of Montaigne, then, this hommage volume is titled Essays in Friendship and in Truth.
Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality in Hispanic American and Latino/a Thought
Forging People explores the way in which Hispanic American thinkers in Latin America and Latino/a philosophers in the United States have posed and thought about questions of race, ethnicity, and nationality, and how they have interpreted the most significant racial and ethnic labels used in Hispanic America in connection with issues of rights, nationalism, power, and identity. Following the first introductory chapter, each of the essays addresses one or more influential thinkers, ranging from Bartolomé de Las Casas on race and the rights of Amerindians; to Simon Bolívar's struggle with questions of how to forge a nation from disparate populations; to modern and contemporary thinkers on issues of race, unity, assimilation, and diversity. Each essay carefully and clearly presents the views of key authors in their historical and philosophical context and provides brief biographical sketches and reading lists, as aids to students and other readers.
Are workers in the United States free? Gertrude Ezorsky traces the severe limits placed on their freedom by illegal coercion against organizing unions and by low wage offers-barely enough to feed their families-that workers are pressured to accept. Older, sick workers are forced to stay in exhausting jobs to be eligible for pensions.
Ezorsky shows that the notions of freedom held by most contemporary social scientists and philosophers are far too limited to account for the reality of the workplace, where a lack of freedom abounds. Students preparing to enter the workplace will be informed of that reality by reading this valuable book. In addition to her philosophical investigations Ezorsky provides valuable information on the specifics of labor relations, including employment at will; the NLRA and NLRB; OSHA; outsourcing; and the distinctions among closed, union, and agency shops. Readers interested in moral philosophy, applied ethics, and labor relations will find Ezorsky's arguments clear, forceful, and compelling.
Liberty, Equality, and Utility
In Friendship, James O. Grunebaum introduces a new conceptual framework to articulate, explain, and understand similarities and differences between various conceptions of friendship. Asking whether special preference for friends is morally justified, Grunebaum answers that question by analyzing a comprehensive comparison of not only Aristotle’s three well-known kinds of friendship—pleasure, utility, and virtue—but also a variety of lesser-known friendship conceptions from Kant, C. S. Lewis, and Montaigne. The book clarifies differences about how friends ought to behave toward each other and how these differences are, in part, what separate the various conceptions of friendship.
Studies in Mediaeval and Early Modern History
Today, friendship, love and sexuality are mostly viewed as private, personal and informal relations. In the mediaeval and early modern period, just like in ancient times, this was different. The classical philosophy of friendship (Aristotle) included both friendship and love in the concept of philia. It was also linked to an argument about the virtues needed to become an excellent member of the city state. Thus, close relations were not only thought to be a matter of pleasant gatherings in privacy, but just as much a matter of ethics and politics. What, then, happened to the classical ideas of close relations when they were transmitted to philosophers, clerical and monastic thinkers, state officials or other people in the medieval and early modern period? To what extent did friendship transcend the distinctions between private and public that then existed? How were close relations shaped in practice? Did dialogues with close friends help to contribute to the process of subject-formation in the Renaissance and Enlightenment? To what degree did institutions of power or individual thinkers find it necessary to caution against friendship or love and sexuality?
Duane Cady views warism and pacifism as polar extremes on a continuum that embraces a full spectrum of ethical positions on the morality of war and peace. Realizing that he could not intellectually defend the notions of just-war theory, he found that he was a reluctant pacifist. In this new edition of From Warism to Pacifism, Cady continues to expose the pervasive, subconscious warism that is the dominant ideology in modern Western culture. He explores the changes over the last twenty years—from the end of the Cold War to the ongoing “war on terror,” as well as Barack Obama winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Like racism and sexism, the uncritical presumption that war is morally justifiable, even morally required, misguides our attitudes and institutions. In its place, Cady proposes the development of a positive concept of peace. Citing common objections to pacifist values, he describes peace as something more than the mere absence of war and demonstrates that pacifism is a defensible position.
Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity
The Future of Ethics interprets the big questions of sustainability and social justice through the practical problems arising from humanity's increasing power over basic systems of life. What does climate change mean for our obligations to future generations? How can the sciences work with pluralist cultures in ways that will help societies learn from ecological change?
Traditional religious ethics examines texts and traditions and highlights principles and virtuous behaviors that can apply to particular issues. Willis Jenkins develops lines of practical inquiry through "prophetic pragmatism," an approach to ethics that begins with concrete problems and adapts to changing circumstances. This brand of pragmatism takes its cues from liberationist theology, with its emphasis on how individuals and communities actually cope with overwhelming problems.
Can religious communities make a difference when dealing with these issues? By integrating environmental sciences and theological ethics into problem-based engagements with philosophy, economics, and other disciplines, Jenkins illustrates the wide understanding and moral creativity needed to live well in the new conditions of human power. He shows the significance of religious thought to the development of interdisciplinary responses to sustainability issues and how this calls for a new style of religious ethics.
We seem to be abandoning the codes that told previous generations who they should love. But now that many of us are free to choose whoever we want, nothing is less certain. The proliferation of divorces and separations reveal a dynamic we would rather not see: others sometimes reject us as passionately as we are attracted to them.
Our desire makes us sick. The throes of rivalry are at the heart of our attraction to one another. This is the central thesis of Jean-Michel Oughourlian's The Genesis of Desire, where the war of the sexes is finally given a scientific explanation. The discovery of mirror neurons corroborates his ideas, clarifying the phenomena of empathy and the mechanisms of violent reciprocity.
How can a couple be saved when they have declared war on one another? By helping them realize that desire originates not in the self but in the other. There are strategies that can help, which Dr. Oughourlian has prescribed successfully to his patients. This work, alternating between case studies and more theoretical statements, convincingly defends the possibility that breakups need not be permanent.