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Jewish Views of Human Nature

Mittleman, Alan L.

Published by The University Press Group Ltd
ISBN 10: 069114947X / ISBN 13: 9780691149479
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: Jewish Views of Human Nature

Publisher: The University Press Group Ltd

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New


Series: Library of Jewish Ideas. Num Pages: 232 pages. BIC Classification: HRJT; JFSR1. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational. Dimension: 150 x 224 x 25. Weight in Grams: 392. . 2015. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780691149479

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This book explores one of the great questions of our time: How can we preserve our sense of what it means to be a person while at the same time accepting what science tells us to be true--namely, that human nature is continuous with the rest of nature? What, in other words, does it mean to be a person in a world of things? Alan Mittleman shows how the Jewish tradition provides rich ways of understanding human nature and personhood that preserve human dignity and distinction in a world of neuroscience, evolutionary biology, biotechnology, and pervasive scientism. These ancient resources can speak to Jewish, non-Jewish, and secular readers alike.

Science may tell us what we are, Mittleman says, but it cannot tell us who we are, how we should live, or why we matter. Traditional Jewish thought, in open-minded dialogue with contemporary scientific perspectives, can help us answer these questions. Mittleman shows how, using sources ranging across the Jewish tradition, from the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud to more than a millennium of Jewish philosophy. Among the many subjects the book addresses are sexuality, birth and death, violence and evil, moral agency, and politics and economics. Throughout, Mittleman demonstrates how Jewish tradition brings new perspectives to--and challenges many current assumptions about--these central aspects of human nature.

A study of human nature in Jewish thought and an original contribution to Jewish philosophy, this is a book for anyone interested in what it means to be human in a scientific age.

From the Inside Flap:

"This book is lucid, deeply erudite, and significant. In bringing Jewish sources into conversation with contemporary scientific claims about human nature, Alan Mittleman makes a strong and lively argument for the enduring centrality of human dignity, the profound possibilities of human life along with its limitations, and the importance of considering Jewish voices in ongoing debates about human nature. Anyone interested in Jewish thought, what it means to be human, or both, will benefit and learn a great deal from this wonderful work."--Leora F. Batnitzky, Princeton University

"Human Nature & Jewish Thought is a personal, humane, and nuanced defense of the importance of our moral lives to what it means to be a human being, a defense that does complete justice to recent philosophical and scientific contributions yet is marked by a firm control of classical, medieval, and contemporary Jewish sources. Alan Mittleman writes with grace and intelligence. This is a wonderful example of how to write Jewishly and philosophically about central puzzles and problems that face us all."--Michael L. Morgan, University of Toronto

"An eloquent, tightly written, and insightful reflection on the meaning of being human, Alan Mittleman's book bridges the gap between traditional Jewish accounts of human nature and contemporary philosophy, science, and social theory. His philosophically informed defense of personhood is an important contribution to the debate about human dignity in our technological age."--Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Arizona State University

"Alan Mittleman, an outstanding contributor to philosophically serious Jewish thought, builds a solid structure of deeply spiritual but always open-eyed reflections. He invites readers on an intellectual journey that confronts and deflates many idols of the age with reasoned argument informed by Jewish tradition, without appeal to authority or blind, reactive romanticism."--Lenn Goodman, Vanderbilt University

"This timely and readable work connects biblical and rabbinic thought with enduring questions concerning human nature, highlighting the substantial contemporary relevance of those traditions of thought. Human Nature and Jewish Thought explains how ideas with an ancient anchoring remain strongly relevant to reflection on human self-understanding and to values integral to leading distinctively human lives."--Jonathan Jacobs, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

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