Divine Teaching and the Way of the World: A Defense of Revealed Religion

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Samuel Fleischacker defends what the Enlightenment called 'revealed religion': religions that regard a certain text or oral teaching as sacred, as wholly authoritative over one's life. At the same time, he maintains that revealed religions stand in danger of corruption or fanaticism unless they are combined with secular scientific practices and a secular morality. The first two parts of Divine Teaching and the Way of the World argue that the cognitive and moral practices of a society should prescind from religious commitments -- they constitute a secular 'way of the world', to adapt a phrase from the Jewish tradition, allowing human beings to work together regardless of their religious differences. But the way of the world breaks down when it comes to the question of what we live for, and it is this that revealed religions can illumine. Fleischacker first suggests that secular conceptions of why life is worth living are often poorly grounded, before going on to explore what revelation is, how it can answer the question of worth better than secular worldviews do, and how the revealed and way-of-the-world elements of a religious tradition can be brought together.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this ambitious volume, Fleischacker provides an intricate and sophisticated argument for rationally justifying one's taking a religious text as divine revelation. The argument is rich in creative thinking and in its breadth ... Fleischacker presents an extended argument with an expansive sweep, reminding one of how philosophy used to be done in the grand style. The book's architecture is imposing and its argumentation for its main ideas ... often clever and fresh ... The book is studded with excellent critical discussions of Kant at important junctures, including Kant's idea of private reasoning, and displays a richness of philosophical exploration ... Fleischacker's book should become an object of careful discussion serving for progress in philosophy of religion."—Jerome Gellman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"My heart was warmed: I felt, as I read it, that the world is a better place for the writing of this book."—David Nichols, New Directions

"My heart was warmed: I felt, as I read it, that the world is a better place for the writing of this book."—David Nichols, New Directions

"Fleischacker's book is a philosophical tour de force, meriting close attention by all interested in religion."—David Conway, The Jewish Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199217366
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2011
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel Fleischacker is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His previous work has focused on Enlightenment moral and political thought, especially that of Kant and Adam Smith, and on conceptions of culture, liberalism and distributive justice. He is the author of A Third Concept of Liberty and A Short History of Distributive Justice and editor of Heidegger's Jewish Followers. In 2009 his book, On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, was given the 2009 Joseph B. Gittler Award by the American Philosophical Association, for an outstanding book in the philosophy of social science. Since 2010, he has been Director of Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations Acknowledgements
1. The Way of the World (I): Truth
2. The Way of the World (II): Ethics
3. Beyond the Way of the World: Worth
4. Divine Teaching
5. Divine Teaching and the Way of the World Epilogue
Appendix I: Proofs of God
Appendix II: Maimonides on the Evidence for Revelation
Appendix III: Kant on Art and Natural Beauty

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