On Justice

BookOn Justice

On Justice

An Essay in Jewish Philosophy; with a New Introduction

Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

2008

March 20th, 2008

£19.95

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What is fair? How do rights join hands with generosity? How can punishment be justified? Is there recompense for human suffering? What sense can we make of immortality, or of the idea of a messianic age? In On Justice Lenn Goodman offers the first general theory of justice for more than a century to tap the riches of the Jewish tradition—biblical, rabbinic, and philosophical—and bring its texts into dialogue with the classic works of Western ethics and political philosophy.
Against the backdrop of conversation he opens up—with Saadiah, Halevi, Maimonides, and Spinoza, with Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Rawls—Goodman develops a fresh, ontological approach to the core issues of ethics, politics, and the human condition. The original ideas of On Justice will engage both Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers and students of society and ethics.

‘Nothing is more important for our common culture than genuine dialogue between the different and often rival moral and religious traditions that contribute to it. Goodman’s On Justice is a remarkable statement of what we all have to learn from the Jewish tradition of thought and practice. It is a book for moral philosophers, but it is also a book for everyone with moral concerns.’
- Alasdair MacIntyre, University of Notre Dame

‘Lenn Goodman’s On Justice returns the question of ontology to the heart of ethics.’
- Alan Mittleman, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

‘There are few books of “Jewish philosophy” among the many Jewish books being published of late, and even fewer that really live up to the name “philosophy”. Most of them are studies in the history of ideas. On Justice . . . truly corresponds to its subtitle; it is very much “an essay in Jewish philosophy” . . . The book is beautifully argued and written. It should attract the reflective attention of philosophically-inclined Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and even secularists willing to take religious insights seriously.’
- David Novak, University of Toronto

‘Goodman brings an impressive amount of erudition to issues that are critical to Judaism and Jewish philosophy. His chapters on messianism and the afterlife are superb.’
- Kenneth Seeskin, Northwestern University

‘Clearly written, comprehensive, coherent, and at time almost poetic. While it appropriates a language characteristic of classical and medieval philosophy, it never deviates from a naturalistic interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures which Goodman presents as an important, although literary, source of insight into human nature and its fulfillment.’
- Jude M. Dougherty, Crisis

‘Beautifully argued and written. It should attract the reflective attention of philosophically-inclined Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and even of secularists willing to take religious insights seriously.’
- First Things

‘A learned and thoughtful philosophic study on the nature of justice . . . earnestly developed and merits debate . . . even critics should agree that the book is rich with insightful interpretations of philosophic, biblical, and rabbinic texts.’
- Warren Zev Harvey, Jewish Political Studies Review

‘It presents a political-philosophical teaching that not everyone will acknowledge to be as fully compatible with Jewish tradition as Goodman contends it is. But even readers who disagree with him on this score stand to learn a great deal from him not only about the Jewish religion but also about how to view this world and how to conduct oneself within it.’
- Allan Arkush, Journal of Law & Religion

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About The Author

Lenn E. Goodman is Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. A graduate of Harvard and a former Marshall Scholar, Goodman earned his doctorate at Oxford and is a past winner of the Baumgardt Prize of the American Philosophical Association and the Gratz Centennial Prize, for his book 'God of Abraham'. He has lectured throughout the United States and in Europe, Australia, and Israel. Among his other books are 'Judaism, Human Rights and Human Values', 'Avicenna', 'Islamic Humanism', and 'Jewish and Islamic Philosophy: Crosspollinations in the Classic Age'.