For a book whose title sounds like an affirmation of faith but whose story is about an atheist refuting the existence of God, reading 36 Arguments
is a surprisingly spiritual experience. What if mankind, with our huge brains and highly developed abilities to reason, could evolve a moral philosophy that makes life both comprehensible and livable without falling back on the outside influence of God? That is the idea addressed in Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's highly enjoyable novel.
Many reviews laud the wit and entertainment Goldstein provides but, honestly, the breadth and depth of ideas covered require close and thoughtful reading. Only occasionally a page-turner, the book's longish philosophical and intellectual passages did not whiz by for me. I found I needed a quiet place to read and plenty of time to reflect on my own ideas about life as I made my way through...
Beyond the Book
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein received a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University, has taught philosophy at Bernard College and written five previous philosophically motivated novels. Her most recent book of nonfiction is Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity
. Bertrand Russell considered Spinoza "the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers."
Spinoza (1632-1677) also figures in 36 Arguments for the Existence of God
. In fact, the 35th argument is based on Spinoza's philosophy. Though raised in the Jewish faith and receiving a rabbinical education, Spinoza was expelled from the...