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Doing Justice to Mercy

Religion, Law, and Criminal Justice

Edited by Jonathan Rothchild, Matthew Myer Boulton, and Kevin Jung

It is often assumed that the law and religion address different spheres of human life. Religion and ethics articulate complex systems of moral reasoning that concern norms, deliberation of ends, cultivation of disposition, and transformation of moral agency. Law, in contrast, seeks to govern human conduct through procedural justice, rights, and public good. Doing Justice to Mercy challenges this assumption by presenting the reader with an urgent conversation between the law and religion that yields a constructive approach, both theoretically and practically, to the complex role of mercy in our legal process.

Authored by legal practitioners, activists, and theorists in addition to theologians and ethicists, the essays collected here are informed by timeless principles, and yet they could not be timelier. The trend in sentencing moves toward an increased severity, and the number of incarcerated people in the United States is at an all-time high. In the half-decade since 9/11, moreover, homeland security has established itself as a permanent fixture in our lives. In this atmosphere, the current volume seeks initially to clarify how justice and mercy intertwine in relation to a number of issues, such as rehabilitation, the death penalty, domestic violence, and war crimes. Exploring the legal, philosophical, and theological grounds for mercy in our courts, the discussion then moves to the practical ways in which mercy may be implemented.

Contributors:Marc Mauer, The Sentencing Project * Lois Gehr Livezey, McCormick Theological Seminary * Ernie Lewis, Public Advocate, Commonwealth of Kentucky * Jonathan Rothchild, Loyola Marymount University * Albert W. Alschuler, Northwestern University School of Law * David Scheffer, Northwestern University School of Law * David Little, Harvard Divinity School * Matthew Myer Boulton, Andover Newton Theological School * Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary * Sarah Coakley, Cambridge University * William Schweiker, University of Chicago Divinity School * Kevin Jung, College of William and Mary * Peter J. Paris, Princeton Theological Seminary * W. Clark Gilpin, University of Chicago Divinity School * William C. Placher, Wabash College

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Dostoyevsky’s Critique of the West

The Quest for the Earthly Paradise

Bruce K. Ward

Not much attention has been given to Dostoyevsky's concern with the crisis of the modern West, although allusions to almost every aspect of Western civilization—including the political, economic, and social dimensions—are present in his literary works and abound in his secondary writings.

This book points the way to a better understanding of the apparent contradiction between Dostoyevsky's concern with the highest reaches of human spirituality and at the same time with the most detailed developments in domestic and international politics. Ward argues that the apparent polarization of "religious" thought and "political" analysis of the West are held together for Dostoyevsky in his search for the best human order. He demonstrates not only that Dostoyevsky's observations about the West constitute a coherent critique intimately related to the deepest aspects of his though, but also that these can be rendered more systematic and explicit.

What results is an incisve account of both the religious and the political thought of Dostoyevsky, which helps clarify what Dostoyevsky, which helps clarify what Dostoyevsky can teach us about the modern situation of the Western world and about the problem of human order in general, for, as the author states, "it was Dostoyevsky's great virtue as a thinker always to see the pressing issues of his particular time and place in the light of the 'everlasting problems.'"

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Doubt, Atheism, and the Nineteenth-Century Russian Intelligentsia

Victoria Frede

The autocratic rule of both tsar and church in imperial Russia gave rise not only to a revolutionary movement in the nineteenth century but also to a crisis of meaning among members of the intelligentsia. Personal faith became the subject of intense scrutiny as individuals debated the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, debates reflected in the best-known novels of the day. Friendships were formed and broken in exchanges over the status of the eternal. The salvation of the entire country, not just of each individual, seemed to depend on the answers to questions about belief.
    Victoria Frede looks at how and why atheism took on such importance among several generations of Russian intellectuals from the 1820s to the 1860s, drawing on meticulous and extensive research of both published and archival documents, including letters, poetry, philosophical tracts, police files, fiction, and literary criticism. She argues that young Russians were less concerned about theology and the Bible than they were about the moral, political, and social status of the individual person. They sought to maintain their integrity against the pressures exerted by an autocratic state and rigidly hierarchical society. As individuals sought to shape their own destinies and searched for truths that would give meaning to their lives, they came to question the legitimacy both of the tsar and of Russia’s highest authority, God.

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Dynamic Transcendentals

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty from a Thomistic Perspective

Alice M. Ramos

Addressing contemporary interest in the relationship between metaphysics and ethics, as well as the significance of beauty for ethics, Alice Ramos presents an accessible study of the transcendentals and provides a dynamic rather than static view of truth, goodness, and beauty.

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The Early Heidegger's Philosophy of Life:

Facticity, Being, and Language

Scott M. Campbell

In his early lecture courses, Martin Heidegger exhibited an abiding interest in human life. He believed that human life has philosophical import while it is actually being lived; language has philosophical import while it is being spoken. In this book, Scott Campbell traces the development of Heidegger's ideas about factical life through his interest in Greek thought and its concern with Being. He contends that Heidegger's existential concerns about human life and his ontological concerns about the meaning of Being crystallize in the notion of Dasein as the Being of factical human life. Emphasizing the positive aspects of everydayness, Campbell explores the contexts of meaning embedded within life; the intensity of average, everyday life; the temporal immediacy of life in early Christianity; the hermeneutic pursuit of life's self-alienation; factical spatiality; the temporalizing of history within life; the richness of the world; and the facticity of speaking in Plato and Aristotle. He shows how Heidegger presents a way of grasping human life as riddled with deception but also charged with meaning and open to revelation and insight.

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Early Oxford Lecture on Individuation

Allan B. Wolter, OFM

The problem on individuation, because of its theological implications, was a particularly controversial topic in university circles in the late thirteenth century, particularly at Paris and Oxford. The Lectura text translated in this book is from the first bachelor lectures in Oxford by John Duns Scotus on theological issues occasioned by Peter Lombard's Sentences. Book Two of Peter's collection of opinions of Fathers of the Church, which served as a university textbook, began with a discussion of angels. Scotus tells us Distinction Three "treats of the personality of the angels" and it was this that prompted him to raise these six questions about the individuation of a material substance.

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Early Theological Writings

By G. W. F. Hegel. Translated by T. M. Knox and Richard Kroner. Introduction by Richard Kroner

This volume includes Hegel's most important early theological writings, though not all of the materials collected by Herman Nohl in his definitive Hegels theologische Jugendschriften (Tuebingen, 1907). The most significant omissions are a series of fragments to which Nohl give the general title "National Religion and Christianity" and the essay "Life of Jesus."

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Ecce Monstrum

Georges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form

Jeremy Biles

In the 1930s, Georges Bataille proclaimed a ferociously religioussensibility characterized by simultaneous ecstasy and horror. Ecce Monstrum investigates the content and implications of this religious sensibility by examining Bataille's insistent linking of monstrosity and the sacred. Extending and sometimes challenging major interpretations of Bataille by thinkers like Denis Hollier and Rosalind Krauss the book reveals how his writings betray the monstrous marks of the affective and intellectual contradictions he seeks to produce in his readers. Charting a new approach to recent debates concerning Bataille's formulation of the informe (formless), the author demonstrates that the motif of monstrosity is keyed to Bataille's notion of sacrifice--an operation that ruptures the integrality of the individual form. Bataille enacts a monstrousmode of reading and writing in his approaches to other thinkers and artists--a mode that is at once agonistic and intimate. Ecce Monstrum examines this monstrous mode of reading and writing through investigations of Bataille's sacrificialinterpretations of Kojve's Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche; his contentious relationship with Simone Weil and its implications for his mystical and writing practices; his fraught affiliation with surrealist Andr Breton and his attempt to displace surrealism with hyperchristianity; and his peculiar relations to artist Hans Bellmer, whose work evokes Bataille's religious sensibility.With its wide-ranging analyses, this book offers insights of interest to scholars of religion, philosophers, art historians, and students of French intellectual history and early modernism.

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Ecstatic Morality and Sexual Politics

A Catholic and Antitotalitarian Theory of the Body

Graham James McAleer

This first book-length treatment of Thomas Aquinas'stheory of the body presents a Catholic understandingof the body and its implications for social and politicalphilosophy. Making a fundamental contribution toantitotalitarian theory, McAleer argues that a sexual politicsreliant upon Aquinas's theory of the body is better (becauseless violent) than other commonly available theories.He contrasts this theory with those of four other groupsof thinkers: the continental tradition represented by Kant,Schopenhauer, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy, Levinas, and Deleuze;feminism, in the work of Donna Haraway; an alternativeCatholic theory to be found in Karl Rahner; and theRadical Orthodoxyof John Milbank.

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Encountering Reality

T. F. Torrance on Truth and Human Understanding

by Travis M. Stevick

Encountering Reality argues for a new appreciation of T. F. Torrance on epistemology and reality. According to Torrance's realism, all authentic knowledge involves the nature of the object impressing its inherent rationality on the mind. Consequently, knowledge involves thinking in accordance with the nature of the object. We shall explore the place and function of “ultimate beliefs” in epistemology, as well as the question as to whether such beliefs imply a retreat to either foundationalism or fideism. The inescapability of ultimate beliefs in all human knowledge requires a shift in the traditional notion of objectivity. We find that shift in the account provided by T. F. Torrance, whose epistemological position implies an alternative notion of truth. Drawing on distinctly Christian sources, Torrance emphasizes the distinction between truth and truthfulness thereby reorienting the discussion from a focus on statements to a focus on being. This shift challenges the dichotomy between correspondence and coherence theories of truth and provides one way of transcending the scientific realism/anti-realism debate and gives rise to a practical epistemological tool, disclosure models, which function as self-correcting, self-marginalizing lenses through which we encounter reality, yielding knowledge in accordance to the nature of the thing known.

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