Among the topics explored in this book are ways of viewing the soul, the relation between body and soul, environmentalist thought, the phenomenon of torture, and the philosophical and theological warrants for genocide. Presenting an analysis of abstract modes of thought that have contributed to genocide, the book argues that a Jewish model of concrete thinking may inform our understanding of the abstractions that can lead to genocide. Its aim is to draw upon distinctively Jewish categories of thought to demonstrate how the conceptual defacing of the other human being serves to promote the murder of peoples, and to suggest a way of thinking that might help prevent genocide.
David Patterson holds the Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies in the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. He has taught at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oregon. A winner of the National Jewish Book Award and the Koret Jewish Book Award, Patterson has published more than 30 books and 140 articles and chapters in journals and books on philosophy, literature, Judaism, the Holocaust, and education. His writings have been anthologized in five different collections.
1. Introduction: a name, not an essence; 2. Why Jewish thought and what makes it Jewish?; 3. Deadly philosophical abstraction; 4. The stranger in your midst; 5. Nefesh: the soul as flesh and blood; 6. The environmentalist contribution to genocide; 7. Torture; 8. Hunger and homelessness; 9. Philosophy, religion, and genocide; 10. A concluding reflection on body and soul.