In August, Brandeis University Press will release “Jewish Philosophical Politics in Germany, 1789-1848″ by Sven-Erik Rose (University of California, Davis). The Publisher’s description follows:
A provocative look at how Jewish intellectuals thought about Jewish religion and existence within a German philosophical tradition
In this book Rose illuminates the extraordinary creativity of Jewish intellectuals as they reevaluated Judaism with the tools of a German philosophical tradition fast emerging as central to modern intellectual life. While previous work emphasizes the “subversive” dimensions of German-Jewish thought or the “inner antisemitism” of the German philosophical tradition, Rose shows convincingly the tremendous resources German philosophy offered contemporary Jews for thinking about the place of Jews in the wider polity. Offering a fundamental reevaluation of seminal figures and key texts, Rose emphasizes the productive encounter between Jewish intellectuals and German philosophy. He brings to light both the complexity and the ambivalence of reflecting on Jewish identity and politics from within a German tradition that invested tremendous faith in the political efficacy of philosophical thought itself.
This month, Princeton University Press publishes Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae; A Biography, by Bernard McGinn (University of Chicago). the publisher’s description follows:
This concise book tells the story of the most important theological work of the Middle Ages, the vast Summa theologiae of Thomas Aquinas, which holds a unique place in Western religion and philosophy. Written between 1266 and 1273, theSumma was conceived by Aquinas as an instructional guide for teachers and novices and a compendium of all the approved teachings of the Catholic Church. It synthesizes an astonishing range of scholarship, covering hundreds of topics and containing more than a million and a half words–and was still unfinished at the time of Aquinas’s death.
Here, Bernard McGinn, one of today’s most acclaimed scholars of medieval Christianity, vividly describes the world that shaped Aquinas, then turns to the Dominican friar’s life and career, examining Aquinas’s reasons for writing his masterpiece, its subject matter, and the novel way he organized it. McGinn gives readers a brief tour of the Summa itself, and then discusses its reception over the past seven hundred years. He looks at the influence of the Summa on such giants of medieval Christendom as Meister Eckhart, its ridicule during the Enlightenment, the rise and fall of Neothomism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the role of the Summa in the post-Vatican II church, and the book’s enduring relevance today.
Tracing the remarkable life of this iconic work, McGinn’s wide-ranging account provides insight into Aquinas’s own understanding of the Summa as a communication of the theological wisdom that has been given to humanity in revelation.
Earlier this year, Routledge released What is Islamic Philosophy? by Roy Jackson (University of Gloucestershire, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
What is Islamic Philosophy? offers a broad introduction to Islamic thought, from its origins to the many challenging issues facing Muslims in the contemporary world. The chapters explore early Islamic philosophy and trace its development through key themes and figures up to the twenty-first century.
Topics covered include:
- ethical issues such as just war, abortion, women’s rights, homosexuality and cloning
- questions in political philosophy regarding what kind of Islamic state could exist and how democratic can (or should) Islam really be
- the contribution of Islam to ‘big questions’ such as the existence of God, the concept of the soul, and what constitutes truth.
This fresh and original book includes a helpful glossary and suggestions for further reading. It is ideal for students coming to the subject for the first time as well as anyone wanting to learn about the philosophical tradition and dilemmas that are part of the Islamic worldview.
This May, Oxford University Press will publish Natural Law: A Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Trialogue by Anver M. Emon (University of Toronto), Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary), and David Novak (University of Toronto). The publisher’s description follows.
This book is an examination of natural law doctrine, rooted in the classical writings of our respective three traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic. Each of the authors provides an extensive essay reflecting on natural law doctrine in his tradition. Each of the authors also provides a thoughtful response to the essays of the other two authors. Readers will gain a sense for how natural law (or cognate terms) resonated with classical thinkers such as Maimonides, Origen, Augustine, al-Ghazali and numerous others. Readers will also be instructed in how the authors think that these sources can be mined for constructive reflection on natural law today. A key theme in each essay is how the particularity of the respective religious tradition is squared with the evident universality of natural law claims. The authors also explore how natural law doctrine functions in particular traditions for reflection upon the religious other.
This March, De Gruyter published Religion and Public Reason: A Comparison of the Positions of John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas and Paul Ricoeur by Maureen Junker-Kenny (Trinity College, Dublin). The publisher’s description follows.
This book compares three approaches to public reason and to the public space accorded to religions: the liberal platform of an overlapping consensus proposed by John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethical reformulation of Kant’s universalism and its realization in the public sphere, and the co-founding role which Paul Ricoeur attributes to the particular traditions that have shaped their cultures and the convictions of citizens.
The premises of their positions are analysed under four aspects: (1) the normative framework which determines the specific function of public reason; (2) their anthropologies and theories of action; (3) the dimensions of social life and its concretization in a democratic political framework; (4) the different views of religion that follow from these factors, including their understanding of the status of metaphysical and religious truth claims, and the role of religion as a practice and conviction in a pluralist society. Recent receptions and critiques in English and German are brought into conversation: philosophers and theologians discuss the scope of public reason, and the task of translation from faith traditions, as well as the role they might have in the diversity of world cultures for shaping a shared cosmopolitan horizon.
This month, Oxford University Press published The Morality of Defensive War edited by Cécile Fabre (Lincoln College, Oxford) and Seth Lazar (Australian National University). The publisher’s description follows.
Most of us take it for granted that wars in defence of one’s political community are the quintessential just wars. Indeed, while in recent years philosophers have subjected all of our other assumptions about just war theory to radical revision, this principle has emerged largely unscathed.
But what underpins the morality of defensive war? In this book, leading moral and political philosophers both show the profoundly challenging nature of that question, and advance novel answers to it. The first part exposes the deep tension between the individualist foundations of much contemporary philosophy and plausible conclusions about the morality of defensive war. The second part offers an individualist attempt to resolve that tension, while the third seeks to justify defensive war by appeal to more collectivist values.
This month, Lexington Books will publish God, Locke, and Liberty: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in the West, by Joseph Loconte (The King’s College). The publisher’s description follows:
“I no sooner perceived myself in the world,” wrote English philosopher John Locke, “than I found myself in a storm.” The storm of which Locke spoke was the maelstrom of religious fanaticism and intolerance that was tearing apart the social fabric of European society. His response was A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), arguably the most important defense of religious freedom in the Western tradition. In God, Locke, and Liberty: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in the West, historian Joseph Loconte offers a groundbreaking study of Locke’s Letter, challenging the notion that decisive arguments for freedom of conscience appeared only after the onset of the secular Enlightenment. Loconte argues that Locke’s vision of a tolerant and pluralistic society was based on a radical reinterpretation of the life and teachings of Jesus. In this, Locke drew great strength from an earlier religious reform movement, namely, the Christian humanist tradition. Like no thinker before him, Locke forged an alliance between liberal political theory and a gospel of divine mercy. God, Locke, and Liberty suggests how a better understanding of Locke’s political theology could calm the storms of religious violence that once again threaten international peace and security.
This March, The Catholic University of America Press will publish Liberty and Law: The Idea of Permissive Natural Law, 1100-1800 by Brian Tierney (Cornell University). The publisher’s description follows.
Liberty and Law examines a previously underappreciated theme in legal history – the idea of permissive natural law. The idea is mentioned only peripherally, if at all, in modern histories of natural law. Yet it engaged the attention of jurists, philosophers, and theologians over a long period and formed an integral part of their teachings. This ensured that natural law was not conceived of as merely a set of commands and prohibitions that restricted human conduct, but also as affirming a realm of human freedom, understood as both freedom from subjection and freedom of choice. Freedom can be used in many ways, and throughout the whole period from 1100 to 1800 the idea of permissive natural law was deployed for various purposes in response to different problems that arose. It was frequently invoked to explain the origin of private property and the beginnings of civil government.
Several kinds of permissive natural law were identified. Permission could be positive or negative, depending on whether it was specifically conceded by a legislator or only tacitly allowed. It could free from sin or merely remit some temporal punishment that was due. It could commend some conduct without commanding it or permit some evil without condoning it. Medieval canonists used the concept of permissive natural law to harmonize the discordant texts that they found in their sources; William of Ockham found it a powerful tool in his defense of Franciscan poverty against papal criticisms; for Richard Hooker it justified both the constitutional structure and the ritual practices of the Anglican church; John Selden used it to uphold the inviolability of contracts, most importantly the contract of government; Hugo Grotius made it a central theme in his treatment of the conduct permissible in waging war; in the eighteenth century Jean Barbeyrac and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui associated the idea with the emerging doctrine of natural rights. In Liberty and Law, Tierney has presented us with a magisterial and provocative way of interpreting legal history.
This month, Ashgate published Visions of Peace: Asia and the West edited by Takashi Shogimen (University of Otago) and Vicki A. Spencer (University of Otago). The publisher’s description follows.
Visions of Peace: Asia and the West explores the diversity of past conceptualizations as well as the remarkable continuity in the hope for peace across global intellectual traditions. Current literature, prompted by September 11, predominantly focuses on the laws and ethics of just wars or modern ideals of peace. Asian and Western ideals of peace before the modern era have largely escaped scholarly attention. This book examines Western and Asian visions of peace that existed prior to c.1800 by bringing together experts from a variety of intellectual traditions.
The historical survey ranges from ancient Greek thought, early Christianity and medieval scholasticism to Hinduism, classical Confucianism and Tokuguwa Japanese learning, before illuminating unfamiliar aspects of peace visions in the European Enlightenment. Each chapter offers a particular case study and attempts to rehabilitate a ‘forgotten’ conception of peace and reclaim its contemporary relevance. Collectively they provide the conceptual resources to inspire more creative thinking towards a new vision of peace in the present. Students and specialists in international relations, peace studies, history, political theory, philosophy, and religious studies will find this book a valuable resource on diverse conceptions of peace.
On January 9, Oxford University Press published Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics: The Theologico-Political Treatise by Susan James (Birkbeck College). The publisher’s description follows.
Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise is simultaneously a work of philosophy and a piece of practical politics. It defends religious pluralism, a republican form of political organisation, and the freedom to philosophise, with a determination that is extremely rare in seventeenth-century thought. But it is also a fierce and polemical intervention in a series of Dutch disputes over issues about which Spinoza and his opponents cared very deeply.
Susan James makes the arguments of the Treatise accessible, and their motivations plain, by setting them in their historical and philosophical context. She identifies the interlocking theological, hermeneutic, historical, philosophical, and political positions to which Spinoza was responding, shows who he aimed to discredit, and reveals what he intended to achieve. The immediate goal of the Treatise is, she establishes, a local one. Spinoza is trying to persuade his fellow citizens that it is vital to uphold and foster conditions in which they can cultivate their capacity to live rationally, free from the political manifestations and corrosive psychological effects of superstitious fear. At the same time, however, his radical argument is designed for a broader audience. Appealing to the universal philosophical principles that he develops in greater detail in his Ethics, and drawing on the resources of imagination to make them forceful and compelling, Spinoza speaks to the inhabitants of all societies, including our own. Only in certain political circumstances is it possible to philosophise, and learn to live wisely and well.