ASP Abridged: Nature and Norm: Judaism, Christianity, and the Theopolitical Problem

We are pleased to present the latest in a new series of blog posts, ASP Abridged, in which authors give readers a short and sweet introduction to their latest book.

Here, Randi Rashkover introduces us to her new book, Nature and Norm: Judaism, Christianity, and the Theopolitical Problem.

Tell us what Nature and Norm is about in simple terms.

Nature and Norm is a book about the impact of the scientific revolution and the fact-value divide on modern, western Jewish and Christian thought. The fact-value divide is the belief that statements of facts concerning the objective world alone may be considered true or false, whereas claims about values are subjective or strictly relative to those who hold them and are devoid of intelligibility or validity. Entranced by the new developments arising from natural science, scientists, philosophers, and religious thinkers alike began to take for granted that scientific knowledge offered the most accurate representation of reality and that only claims concerning the natural world could be considered potentially true or false. 

Since the 17th century, modern and contemporary Jewish and Christian thought has more often than not adhered to the logic of the fact-value distinction. Unfortunately, adherence to this logic has had calamitous results for Jewish and Christian thought, including an inability to articulate clear and meaningful claims, an inclination towards utopian theopolitical positions, a tendency towards dogmatism, and an overall inability to advance effective platforms for theopolitical change. 

How does Nature and Norm make a unique contribution to the field?

In the current moment, contemporary Jewish and Christian thinkers face a forced option to either permit Jewish and Christian thought to be haunted by the shadow of skepticism or to illuminate conceptual practices capable of issuing on-going and changing measures of the justifiability of claims. Ultimately, Nature and Norm argues that Jewish and Christian thinkers can no longer afford the luxury of accepting the rational unintelligibility of their positions. Not an attempt to tear down the value of scientific inquiry or prop up theological discourse, Nature and Norm calls religious thinkers to exercise their historically mandated philosophical authority to preserve the vitality of their knowledge claims by way of a philosophical logic that gives ample space to both religious thought and scientific inquiry. 

Randi Rashkover holds the Nathan and Sofia Gumenick Chair in Judaic Studies at William & Mary. She is the author of Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologetics (Fordham University Press, 2011) and Revelation and Theopolitics: Barth, Rosenzweig and the Politics of Praise (T&T Clark, 2005).