MacArthur Fellow To Speak on Questions of Religious Identity

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of “The Dark Sister,” “The Mind-Body Problem” and “Betraying Spinoza,” will deliver the 2007 Blanksteen Lecture in Jewish Ethics on February 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall St.

The lecture, titled “Spinoza and the Vexed Question of Religious Identity,” is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

The Lectureship in Jewish Ethics was established in 1995 by David and Goldie Blanksteen to provide members of the Yale community the opportunity to engage in discussion of critical ethical questions with leading contemporary thinkers and activists. Previous Blanksteen lecturers have included Shimon Peres, David Hartman and Peter Singer.

James Carroll, author of “Constantine’s Sword,” said about “Betraying Spinoza,” “We are all children of Spinoza. But even now we are in danger of betraying him. Rebecca Goldstein reminds us of what is urgently at stake in a clear-eyed appreciation of this prophet of tolerance, democratic values and authentic faith. This book is as timely as it is beautifully crafted.”

In awarding her a “genius grant” in 1996, the MacArthur Foundation called Goldstein “a writer whose novels and short stories dramatize the concerns of philosophy without sacrificing the demands of imaginative storytelling. Her books tell a compelling story as they describe with wit, compassion and originality the interaction of mind and heart. In her fiction her characters confront problems of faith: religious faith and faith in an ability to comprehend the mysteries of the physical world as complementary to moral and emotional states of being.”

A graduate of Barnard College, Goldstein earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton. While in graduate school she was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship and a Whiting Foundation Fellowship. In 2005 she was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2006, received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Goldstein has taught philosophy at Barnard, Rutgers, Brandeis and Trinity College in Hartford. During her tenure at Barnard, she used a summer vacation to write her first novel, “The Mind-Body Problem.”

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