Personalism Revisited: Its Proponents and Critics

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This book presents selected addresses presented before the Personalist Discussion Group meetings held in conjunction with the annual meetings of The American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. It includes the central ideas of American Personalistic Idealism developed during the twentieth century, its major criticisms, and recent developments by philosophers who are either Personalistic Idealists or sympathetic to the position.
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About the author

Thomas O. Buford is the Louis G. Forgione Professor of Philosophy at Furman University, where he has taught since 1969. He is the author or editor of eight books, including Essays on Other Minds (U. Of Illinois Press), Contemporary Studies in Philosophical Idealism (with John Howie; Claud Stark, Publishers), and In Search of a Calling (Mercer University Press). In 1985 he founded The Personalism Forum, which he edited until 1998; the journal is now edited by Randall Auxier at Southern Illinois University. And in 1989 he and Charles Conti of the University of Sussex founded The International Conference on Person, which meets every other year, alternating between Europe and the United States. From 1985 though 1999 he was the Secretary of the Personalist Discussion Group, an organization which has met at the Eastern Division Meetings of The American Philosophical Association every year since 1938.
Harold H. Oliver is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Theology, School of Theology, Boston University. A graduate of Samford University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Princeton University, and Emory University, Professor Oliver has held an American Association of Theological Schools Faculty Fellowship and at Cambridge University he was the Fellow of Cross-disciplinary Studies. He has contributed to scholarly journals, including Journal of Bible and Religion, Perspectives on Religious Studies, Zygon, Journal of Religion & Science, and the Journal of The American Academy of Religion. Harold is best for known for his seminal work, A Relational Metaphysic, Nijhoff, 1981. He now lives in Deatsville, Alabama.
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Additional Information

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Published on
Dec 31, 2002
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Religion / Ethics
Religion / Theology
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Eligible for Family Library

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Know Thyself: An Essay in Social Personalism proposes that social Personalism can best provide for self-knowledge. In the West, self-knowledge has been sought within the framework of two dominant intellectual traditions, order and the emerging self. On the one hand, ancient and medieval philosophers living in an orderly hierarchical society, governed by honor and shame, and bolstered by the metaphysics of being and rationalism, believed persons gain self-knowledge through uniting with the ground of their being; once united they would understand what they are, what they are to be, and what they are to do. On the other hand, Renaissance and modern thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola, Copernicus, Descartes, Locke, and Kant shattered the great achievement of the high middle ages and bequeathed to posterity an emerging self in a splintered world. Continuing their search for self-knowledge, the moderns found themselves faced with the dualism of the emerging self of the Renaissance and the natural world as understood by modern scientists. New problems spun out of this dualism, including the mind-body problem; the other minds problem; free will and determinism; the nature and possibility of social relationships; values, moral norms and their relationship to the natural and social worlds; and the relationships between science and religion. Finding self-knowledge among these splinters without a guiding orientation has proven difficult. Even though luminaries such as Spinoza, Berkeley, and Hegel attempted to bring order to the sundered elements, their attempts proved unsatisfactory. We contend that neither order nor the emerging self can adequately provide for self-knowledge. Since those culturally embodied “master narratives” lead us to an impasse, we turn to social Personalism.
Self-knowledge developed in this book shows how persons in relation to the Personal learn who they are, what they are to become, and what they must do to achieve that goal. It also shows that the achievement of self-knowledge is supported by a natural, social, and cultural environment rooted in trust. In this humane and timely discussion, Thomas O. Buford offers a personalist understanding of self-knowledge that avoids the impersonalisms that erode the dignity of persons and their moral life which characterize modern life.
“Jewish thinkers don’t talk all that much about love. All too often we leave that to Christian theologians. But in this excellent volume, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin puts the commandment to love at the center of Jewish theology and experience. This is a book that will change the way you think about–and practice–Judaism.”
–Professor Ari L. Goldman, Columbia University, and author of The Search for God at Harvard

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the best-known commandment in the Bible. Yet we rarely hear anyone talk about how to apply these words in daily life. In this landmark work, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, one of the premier scholars and thinkers of our time, gives both Jews and non-Jews an extraordinary summation of what Jewish tradition teaches about putting these words into practice.

Writing with great clarity and simplicity as well as with deep wisdom, Telushkin covers topics such as love and kindness, hospitality, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, charity, relations between Jews and non-Jews, compassion for animals, tolerance, self-defense, and end-of-life issues. This second volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics written in the English language is breathtaking in its scope and will undoubtedly influence readers for generations to come. It offers hundreds of practical examples from the Torah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and both ancient and modern rabbinic commentaries–as well as contemporary anecdotes–all teaching us how to care for one another each and every day.

A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 2: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself is a consummate work of scholarship. Like its acclaimed predecessor, which received the National Jewish Book Award, it is rich with ideas to contemplate and discuss, while being primarily a book to live by. Nothing could be more important in these strife-torn times than learning how to love our neighbors as ourselves. The message of this book is as vital and timely now as it has been since time immemorial.

From the Hardcover edition.
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