Going beyond Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, Eidelberg shows how the cardinal principles of democracy--freedom and equality--can be saved from the degradation of moral relativism by applying Jewish law to these principles.
Going beyond Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, Paul Eidelberg shows how the cardinal principles of democracy--freedom and equality--can be saved from the degradation of moral relativism by applying Jewish law to these principles. The author attempts to overcome the dichotomy of religion and secularism as well as other contradictions of Western civilization by means of a philosophy of history that uses thoroughly rational concepts and is supported by empirical evidence.
Eidelberg enumerates and elucidates the characteristics that make Jewish law particularly suited to reopening the secular mind and elevating democracy's formative principles. The author compares and contrasts Jewish law with political philosophy. His goal is to derive freedom and equality from a conception of man and society that goes beyond the usual political and social categories, avoiding both relativism and absolutism. In conclusion, Eidelberg attempts to overcome the perennial problem of democracy: how to reconcile wisdom and consent. This he does by sketching the basic institutions of a new community. This unique analysis should be read by political and religious theoreticians alike.
Preface The World of Secularism and Religion The Beginning and End of Secularism: From Socrates to Machiavelli The Closing of the Secular Mind The Failure of Secularism cum Religionism Judaism and Democracy Why Judaism Is Not a Religion Forward to Genesis Equality with Excellence Freedom with Virtue A "New" Model of Man Four Types of Men Beyond the Secular Mind Beyond the Contradictions of Mankind On the Limited Rationality of the West The Law of the Future Selected Bibliography Index
Reviews Eidelberg identifies the central problems of Western civilization as preserving the central values of democracy--i.e., freedom and equality--from the twin threats posed by moral relativism and religious extremism. His analysis of the roots of this problem in classical and contemporary political theory is insightful. . . . The author writes, `Judaism goes beyond the secular mind and points the way to transcending Western civilization,' and again, `Inasmuch as freedom and equality . . . cannot of themselves teach man how to live, the only way to . . . save what is precious in these two principles is to derive them from . . . a body of knowledge that transcends the dichotomy of secularism and religion. That body of knowledge will be found in Jewish law.' The author's knowledge of halakha is substantial; his presentation of it, however, is highly selective. He also fails to engage in serious historical or tectual critical study of the traditional Jewish sources he cites. . . .—Choice