Touro College Press has published a new 518-page volume on Jewish philosophy and ethics by Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of the Lander College for Men, professor of philosophy, and faculty member of Touro’s Graduate School of Jewish Studies.
Judaism Examined: Essays in Jewish Philosophy and Ethics explores key themes in Jewish philosophy and ethics from the rigorous perspective of philosophical analysis. The first set of essays takes up the challenge of living a Jewish life, and includes essays on pleasure, joy, human suffering, Jewish ritual practice, and the philosophical life. The second set of essays analyzes the value and meaning of autonomy, human freedom, and tolerance in Jewish thought, crucial themes in Western political thought and life.
Other essays in the volume examine the many meanings of Jewish texts, and such crucial issues in applied Jewish ethics as ecology, medical ethics, and justified homicide. Finally, a number of essays plumb the depths of the thought of one of the most influential and creative Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.
Taking the approach of analytic philosophy, Dr. Sokol said that in writing the essays he endeavored to bring together the work of great Jewish thinkers in a way that approaches questions anew. “Even when great Jewish thinkers are studied, they can and should be considered not only as historical artifacts embedded in the past, but in active dialogue with the present. They believed in the eternal truth of what they wrote,” Dr. Sokol said. “But this requires them to be open to active and critical conversation with contemporaries and successors, and to application of conceptual frameworks and ideas of recent and contemporary philosophers on those great efforts of the past.”
Dr. Michael Shmidman, dean of Touro’s Graduate School of Jewish Studies and editor of Touro College Press, said Dr. Sokol’s volume “advances the engagement of classical Jewish themes with Anglo-American philosophy, shedding new light both on the Jewish tradition, and on the Western philosophical enterprise.”
Dr. Sokol holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, and studied at Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, Yeshiva Torah Voda’as, and the Israel Torah Research Institute (ITRI) in Jerusalem, where he was ordained. In addition to his academic appointments at Touro, Dr. Sokol also serves as rabbi of the Yavneh Minyan of Flatbush, a position he has held since 1980.
A prolific writer and widely respected academician, Dr. Sokol has published over two dozen essays in Israeli, British, and American journals and books in the fields of medieval and modern Jewish philosophy and ethics, published by the university presses of Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Cambridge, among others. In addition to his newest work, he has written or edited Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy (1993), Engaging Modernity (1997), and Tolerance, Dissent and Democracy: Philosophical, Historical and Halakhic Perspectives (2002).
Judaism Examined is distributed by Academic Studies Press, and may be ordered at www.academicstudiespress.com. v