Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

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Overview


In this book, Lenn E. Goodman writes about the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself" from the standpoint of Judaism, a topic and perspective that have not often been joined before. Goodman addresses two big questions: What does that command ask of us? and what is its basis? Drawing extensively on Jewish sources, both biblical and rabbinic, he fleshes out the cultural context and historical shape taken on by this Levitical commandment. In so doing, he restores the richness of its material content to this core articulation of our moral obligations, which often threatens to sink into vacuity as a mere nostrum or rhetorical formula.

Goodman argues against the notion that we have this obligation simply because God demands it -- a position that too readily makes ethics seem arbitrary, relativistic, dogmatic, authoritarian, contingent or just unpalatable. Rather he proposes that we learn much about how we ought to think about God from what we know about morals. He shows that natural reasoning and appeals to scripture, tradition, and revelation reinforce one another in ethical deliberation. For Goodman, ethics and theology are not worlds apart connected only by a kind of narrow one-way passage; the two realms of discourse can and should inform each other.

Engaging the philosophers, including Aristotle, Spinoza, and Kant, and assembling three-thousand years worth of Jewish textual masterpieces, Goodman skillfully weaves his Gifford Lectures, which he delivered in 2005, into an indispensable work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Goodman's synthesis of Jewish values is formidable. His erudition, lucid prose, and courageous insistence on the ultimacy of human choice embarrass ignorance and undermine dogmatism of any stripe. And were not this sufficient, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself also indicates that although the encounter of traditional religion with natural science generates more headlines and dazzling fireworks, that encounter pales in comparison to the urgent problem of reconciling confessional religious loyalty with the democratic principle of religious pluralism. In these desperate times of growing xenophobia and totalitarianism, both secular and religious, Goodman's humanistic plea for love and open-minded contemplation "on the things of others" is more necessary and welcome than ever." --Kalman P. Bland, author of The Artless Jew: Medeival and Modern Affirmations and Denials of the Visual

"Lenn E. Goodman is one of those rare philosophers who is also a learned Jewish thinker, and one of these rare Jewish thinkers who is an accomplished philosopher. Once again in Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself, which were his Gifford Lectures in 2005, he brilliantly shows the influence this most important ethical commandment of the Bible has had on Jewish thought throughout history, and the philosophical significance of this biblical commandment for all those seeking a rational morality to both know and live." --David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

"A tour de force of dialectical philosophical ethics. With brilliant erudition and copious common sense, Goodman weaves together resources from the entire span of Jewish thinking, with careful consideration of Muslim and Christian theology, to address some of the most serious philosophical issues of our day, such as "why be moral?" I recommend this volume as one of the best Giffords in years." --Robert Cummings Neville, author of Religion in Late Modernity

"Rich in philosophical and rabbinical wisdom." --First Things

"Goodman's synthesis of Jewish values is formidable. His erudition, lucid prose, and courageous insistence on the ultimacy of human choice embarrass ignorance and undermine dogmatism of any stripe. And were not this sufficient, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself also indicates that although the encounter of traditional religion with natural science generates more headlines and dazzling fireworks, that encounter pales in comparison to the urgent problem of reconciling confessional religious loyalty with the democratic principle of religious pluralism. In these desperate times of growing xenophobia and totalitarianism, both secular and religious, Goodman's humanistic plea for love and open-minded contemplation "on the things of others" is more necessary and welcome than ever." --Kalman P. Bland, author of The Artless Jew: Medeival and Modern Affirmations and Denials of the Visual

"Lenn E. Goodman is one of those rare philosophers who is also a learned Jewish thinker, and one of these rare Jewish thinkers who is an accomplished philosopher. Once again in Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself, which were his Gifford Lectures in 2005, he brilliantly shows the influence this most important ethical commandment of the Bible has had on Jewish thought throughout history, and the philosophical significance of this biblical commandment for all those seeking a rational morality to both know and live." --David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

"A tour de force of dialectical philosophical ethics. With brilliant erudition and copious common sense, Goodman weaves together resources from the entire span of Jewish thinking, with careful consideration of Muslim and Christian theology, to address some of the most serious philosophical issues of our day, such as "why be moral?" I recommend this volume as one of the best Giffords in years." --Robert Cummings Neville, author of Religion in Late Modernity

"Rich in philosophical and rabbinical wisdom." --First Things

Lenn Goodman, whose masterful work, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself, is less an exploration of natural law per se than an examination of the complex relationship between revealed and extant morality."--Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195328820
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/2/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lenn E. Goodman is Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. His books include On Justice: An Essay in Jewish Philosophy, God of Abraham, Judaism, Human Rights and Human Values, and In Defense of Truth: A Pluralist Approach

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