The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as Living Experience by Diana Lobel (review)

The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as Living Experience by Diana Lobel (review) andusefulforphilosophystudentswithlimitedknowledgeofitssubject.Ifcertain sections are somewhat more clearly explicated in future editions, this book could contributetotheprocessofintegratingIndianphilosophyandtheethnographicand lived religions approaches that are currently prevalent in such fields as religious s tudiesandanthropology. Notes 1­GuptadoesmentiontheCrvka,Buddhist,andJainschoolstobeexceptions. 2­Forexample,seeJohnL.Esposito,DarrellJ.Fasching,andToddLewis,World Religions Today(NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress,2012). 3­Alternately, Christopher Bartley's recent An Introduction to Indian Philosophy (LondonandNewYork:Continuum,2011)concludeswith"aivaPhilosophies. 4­For example, see Paul Hacker's Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta,ed.WilliamHalbfass(Albany:StateUniversity ofNewYorkPress,1995). The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as Living Experience.ByDiana Lobel.NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,2011.Paper,isbn978-0-231-15315-7. ReviewedbyDimple Dhanani UniversityofHawai`i ddhanani@hawaii.edu InThe Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience,Diana Lobel surveys some of the world's major philosophical and religious traditions to uncovervariousperspectivesonthenatureofGodandthegood.The"Quest"inthe titleseemstoreferbothtothequestofthecommunitiesandindividualswhodeveloped the worldviews covered in this book and to the quest of the reader, whose journeytheauthorhopestoencourage.Herstatedgoalis"toexploretheinsightsof centralthinkersfromthroughouttheworldthataddressfundamentalexistentialquestions.Specifically,wewillexploretheconnectionsbetweenconceptsofdivinityor anabsoluteandthegoodoflife"(p.2).Ratherthanaperennialistperspective,Lobel searchesforanappreciationofthe"aestheticbeautyofmultiplevisionsofGodand thegood"(p.3).Thisaestheticbeautyisachievedthroughalayeringofancientand modernperspectives,andamixtureoftechnicaldefinitionsandaccessible xamples. e HavingtaughtcourseswithtitlessimilartothisoneatbothBostonUniversityand Harvard, Lobel elucidates issues that have confused her students, often citing the studentswhoaskedthequestionssheanswers.ThedefinitionofGodandthegood acrosstheseworldviewsdoesnotremainstagnant,butisrecastwitheachnewtradition,creatingafluidandevolvingconceptionoftheseterms.Lookingacrossmultiple visionsofwhatfitsintothecategoriesof"God"and"thegood,"Lobelexaminessuch concepts as "ultimate reality" and "nirva" as belonging to similar categories as PhilosophyEast&WestVolume63,Number4October2013668­671 ©2013byUniversityofHawai`iPress "God."Insteadofacritiqueofthesetraditionsperse,thisworkservesasaguidefor studentsthroughcomplexsubjectmatter. The Questincludesanexaminationandcomparisonofthemajorphilosophical andreligioustraditions.InadditiontoscrutinizingHinduism,Buddhism,andTaoism, sheincludesdiscussionsofindividualphilosopherssuchasAugustine,Maimonides, al-Frb,al-Ghazl,Aristotle,andPlato.Sheelaboratestofurtherframeherpoints citing,amongothers,thinkerssuchasAlfredNorthWhiteheadandCharlesTaylor. EncapsulatedintheinvestigationofGodandthegoodisadiscussionofLobel'sessentialconceptionofhappiness.Thisdiscussionofhappiness,whichisuniversally accessible,alongwithtextualandphilosophicalanecdotes,makesthisworkallthe moreappealingtobeginnersinphilosophy. LobelbeginswiththetwoBiblicalaccountsoftheCreation(Genesis1and2) --a fittingbeginningforreadersfromanAmericanor"Western"background.Sheoffers anoriginalinterpretationofhowandwhy"Godsawthatitwasgood"intermsofthis study.Inchapter2ofThe Questshebrieflyintroducessomeofthekeyperspectives onGodandthegoodtoframetheworksofPlato.Lobelisabletogiveanoverview ofbasicPlatonicthoughtthatincludesacomparisonofPlato's TimaeuswithGenesis and,aswitheachchapter,tiesherdiscussiontoananalysisofthesamesubjectbya morerecentscholar.ByutilizingPlatoandIrisMurdochshededucesthattheGood isasingularunitaryprinciple,andthussheisabletobeginbuildingaframeworkfor discussingtheGood ithacapital"G" ndseesitaccordingtoPlato'sperspec--w --a tive:"AThingisgoodorexcellentinsofarasitfulfillsitsfunction"(p.37).Infurther discussingMurdoch'spositiononattachmentinrelationtoanargumentforthegood, Lobelstates:"Apersoncanshifthisorherentiresenseofidentitybasedonlovefor aformofdance,dress,andmusic,[when]weseekinspirationfromacharismatic entertainmentfigureorpoliticalleader,fromapoliticalormusicalideal"(p.47).At times,herexamplesseemformulatedspecificallyforstudentsinthefield. Inchapter3LobeldiscussesChineseperspectivesand"creationwithoutacreator"byfocusingontheI ChingandtheTao Te Ching.WithregardtoChineseperspectives,shenotesthattherecognitionofchangeisessentialtothisworldviewand thathumanvaluesaremodeledaftertheessentialchangingqualitiesofnatureand theinterconnectednessofallthingsinnature. AftercomparingandcontrastingAugustineandMaimonidesinchapter4,she turns to the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as Living Experience by Diana Lobel (review)

Philosophy East and West, Volume 63 (4) – Oct 23, 2013

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Abstract

andusefulforphilosophystudentswithlimitedknowledgeofitssubject.Ifcertain sections are somewhat more clearly explicated in future editions, this book could contributetotheprocessofintegratingIndianphilosophyandtheethnographicand lived religions approaches that are currently prevalent in such fields as religious s tudiesandanthropology. Notes 1­GuptadoesmentiontheCrvka,Buddhist,andJainschoolstobeexceptions. 2­Forexample,seeJohnL.Esposito,DarrellJ.Fasching,andToddLewis,World Religions Today(NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress,2012). 3­Alternately, Christopher Bartley's recent An Introduction to Indian Philosophy (LondonandNewYork:Continuum,2011)concludeswith"aivaPhilosophies. 4­For example, see Paul Hacker's Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta,ed.WilliamHalbfass(Albany:StateUniversity ofNewYorkPress,1995). The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as Living Experience.ByDiana Lobel.NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,2011.Paper,isbn978-0-231-15315-7. ReviewedbyDimple Dhanani UniversityofHawai`i ddhanani@hawaii.edu InThe Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience,Diana Lobel surveys some of the world's major philosophical and religious traditions to uncovervariousperspectivesonthenatureofGodandthegood.The"Quest"inthe titleseemstoreferbothtothequestofthecommunitiesandindividualswhodeveloped the worldviews covered in this book and to the quest of the reader, whose journeytheauthorhopestoencourage.Herstatedgoalis"toexploretheinsightsof centralthinkersfromthroughouttheworldthataddressfundamentalexistentialquestions.Specifically,wewillexploretheconnectionsbetweenconceptsofdivinityor anabsoluteandthegoodoflife"(p.2).Ratherthanaperennialistperspective,Lobel searchesforanappreciationofthe"aestheticbeautyofmultiplevisionsofGodand thegood"(p.3).Thisaestheticbeautyisachievedthroughalayeringofancientand modernperspectives,andamixtureoftechnicaldefinitionsandaccessible xamples. e HavingtaughtcourseswithtitlessimilartothisoneatbothBostonUniversityand Harvard, Lobel elucidates issues that have confused her students, often citing the studentswhoaskedthequestionssheanswers.ThedefinitionofGodandthegood acrosstheseworldviewsdoesnotremainstagnant,butisrecastwitheachnewtradition,creatingafluidandevolvingconceptionoftheseterms.Lookingacrossmultiple visionsofwhatfitsintothecategoriesof"God"and"thegood,"Lobelexaminessuch concepts as "ultimate reality" and "nirva" as belonging to similar categories as PhilosophyEast&WestVolume63,Number4October2013668­671 ©2013byUniversityofHawai`iPress "God."Insteadofacritiqueofthesetraditionsperse,thisworkservesasaguidefor studentsthroughcomplexsubjectmatter. The Questincludesanexaminationandcomparisonofthemajorphilosophical andreligioustraditions.InadditiontoscrutinizingHinduism,Buddhism,andTaoism, sheincludesdiscussionsofindividualphilosopherssuchasAugustine,Maimonides, al-Frb,al-Ghazl,Aristotle,andPlato.Sheelaboratestofurtherframeherpoints citing,amongothers,thinkerssuchasAlfredNorthWhiteheadandCharlesTaylor. EncapsulatedintheinvestigationofGodandthegoodisadiscussionofLobel'sessentialconceptionofhappiness.Thisdiscussionofhappiness,whichisuniversally accessible,alongwithtextualandphilosophicalanecdotes,makesthisworkallthe moreappealingtobeginnersinphilosophy. LobelbeginswiththetwoBiblicalaccountsoftheCreation(Genesis1and2) --a fittingbeginningforreadersfromanAmericanor"Western"background.Sheoffers anoriginalinterpretationofhowandwhy"Godsawthatitwasgood"intermsofthis study.Inchapter2ofThe Questshebrieflyintroducessomeofthekeyperspectives onGodandthegoodtoframetheworksofPlato.Lobelisabletogiveanoverview ofbasicPlatonicthoughtthatincludesacomparisonofPlato's TimaeuswithGenesis and,aswitheachchapter,tiesherdiscussiontoananalysisofthesamesubjectbya morerecentscholar.ByutilizingPlatoandIrisMurdochshededucesthattheGood isasingularunitaryprinciple,andthussheisabletobeginbuildingaframeworkfor discussingtheGood ithacapital"G" ndseesitaccordingtoPlato'sperspec--w --a tive:"AThingisgoodorexcellentinsofarasitfulfillsitsfunction"(p.37).Infurther discussingMurdoch'spositiononattachmentinrelationtoanargumentforthegood, Lobelstates:"Apersoncanshifthisorherentiresenseofidentitybasedonlovefor aformofdance,dress,andmusic,[when]weseekinspirationfromacharismatic entertainmentfigureorpoliticalleader,fromapoliticalormusicalideal"(p.47).At times,herexamplesseemformulatedspecificallyforstudentsinthefield. Inchapter3LobeldiscussesChineseperspectivesand"creationwithoutacreator"byfocusingontheI ChingandtheTao Te Ching.WithregardtoChineseperspectives,shenotesthattherecognitionofchangeisessentialtothisworldviewand thathumanvaluesaremodeledaftertheessentialchangingqualitiesofnatureand theinterconnectednessofallthingsinnature. AftercomparingandcontrastingAugustineandMaimonidesinchapter4,she turns to the

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Published: Oct 23, 2013

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