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Body & Soul: Human Nature & the Crisis in Ethics Paperback – April 24, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"In an age when some educated Christians are selling out the soul for a mess of materialistic pottage, Moreland and Rae's Body & Soul is a significant restatement and cogent defense of the historic Christian teaching about human nature and responsibility. In contrast to typical antidualistic arguments, this book is grounded in the best exegesis of all the relevant biblical material and well-informed by the grand theological tradition before it proceeds to the metaphysics and sciences of human nature. Indeed, its properly ordered, multidisciplinary methodology is a crucial strength of the book. It first elaborates a detailed and philosophically sophisticated body-soul dualism that at the same time emphasizes the unity and functional holism of human existence. It then builds a formidable case that the traditional view of persons as substantial souls is necessary for a robust Christian understanding of moral responsibility and our obligation toward the unborn, the dying, reproductive technology and genetic engineering. Moreland and Rae defend dualism not so much to reassure us about what happens when we die as to guide us in how we should live. I welcome this timely and substantial volume." (John W. Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary)

"It's about time someone wrote this book. The reality of the soul is not an airy speculation with no importance but in fact that makes a profound difference to every department of human life. Unfortunately, physicalism--the view that the body, but not the soul, is real--has long been gaining ground with hardly a word of protest from Christian thinkers. Some have even taken up the physicalist banner themselves. Not so Moreland and Rae, who demonstrate in Body & Soul that physicalism is philosophically and theologically defective, and unworthy of belief. This impressive treatise is not only a metaphysical tour-de-force but a guide to the most vexing ethical controversies of our time: abortion, fetal research, reproductive and genetic technologies, cloning, euthanasia and assisted suicide. I recommend Body & Soul as an indispensable resource for students, physicians, philosophers, theologians, policy-makers and all who are serious about the great issues of the day." (J. Budziszewski, Depts. Of Government and Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, author of Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law and The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man)

"In a parched philosophical landscape dominated by reductive materialism, Body & Soul by J.P. Moreland and Scott B. Rae is heaven-sent rain. This is the most powerful and persuasive case for substance dualism that I know. But it's much more than that. In addition to its cogent metaphysical psychology, Body & Soul develops--in a unique and impressively rigorous way--the moral implications of the view that the human spirit is irreducibly real. No one interested in the philosophy of mind or in contemporary bioethics can afford to miss this trenchant and timely book." (Ronald K. Tacelli SJ, Boston College)

"Here at last is a book with sufficient theoretical thinking to satisfy the scholar as well as enough everyday ethics to satisfy the rest. All biblically based Christians (not to mention others) will not agree with every bioethical conclusion reached here, but all will be challenged and edified by it in many ways. It will be a book to be reckoned with for many years to come." (John F. Kilner, Ph. D., director of The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity)

"Moreland and Rae have produced an engaging study in Christian metaphysics. They marry an appreciation of Thomas Aquinas with biblical studies in the service of reexploring bioethical issues from abortion to euthanasia. For better understanding of the deep devisions in our debates on these issues, this volume provides an important key." (H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr., Ph.D., M.D., Professor, Baylor College of Medicine)

"The critical foundational issues underlying every ethical battle is personhood. Without a clear and communicable understanding of that issue, the battle is lost. That is why Body & Soul is to the ethical war what the atomic bomb was to World War II. This book is long overdue and essential reading." (Dave Stevens, M.D., Christian Medical and Dental Society)

"J.P. Moreland and Scott Rae challenge the conventional wisdom and give a spirited defense of this form of dualism. Their work deserves the attention of every serious student of this topic." (John Jefferson Davis, Professor of Systematic Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

"It is very good to see a version of dualism (constant with Christian tradition) not merely developed and defended but applied to most of the central issues of medical ethics which are pressing today--such as abortion, cloning, use of fetal tissue and physician-assisted suicide. The authors show convincingly how many of their views about medical ethics follow directly from their version of dualism." (Richard Swinburne, professor of philosophy of religion, Oxford University)

"Body & Soul is a quality piece of philosophical work. The authors certainly have done their homework, are familiar with the literature and know their way around an argument. . . . I welcome a book that is truly first-rate philosophically and uses arguments with rigor and care." (C. Stephen Evans, professor of philosophy, Calvin College)

About the Author

J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. He also serves as director of Eidos Christian Center. He has written, edited or contributed to over twenty books including Christianity and the Nature of Science, Does God Exist? (with Kai Nielsen) and Philosophical Naturalism: A Critical Analysis. He has also published more than fifty articles in journals such as Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, American Philosophical Quarterly, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Southern Journal of Philosophy, Religious Studies and Faith and Philosophy. He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

Scott B. Rae (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is professor of biblical studies and Christian ethics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. He is also the author of Embryo Research and Experimentation (Crossroads) and Brave New Families: Biblical Ethics and Reproductive Technologies (Baker).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 3rd Paperback Edition edition (April 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830815775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830815777
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a few pages shy of finishing BODY AND SOUL. Part one argues for Thomistic Substance Dualism (differentiated from Cartesian Substance Dulaism), and it's written by J.P. Moreland.
Part two takes the arguments for substance dualism and demonstrates the logical implications substance dualism has regarding abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, etc.
The book is crucially important for anyone thinking through the bioethics of these issues.
As important and fascinating as the book is, there are some weakneses. The first thing that will strike the reader is that part one (Moreland) is far more difficult reading than part two (Rae).
Basically, part one assumes a more advanced philosophical background of the reader. This is not to say that a reasonably intelligent person with little background in philosophy cannot benefit, but it will take some work, re-reading certain paragraphs a few times, etc.
I think it would be a worthwhile assignment for Mr. Moreland to rewrite part one to get the hay down out of the loft, so us cows can get to it:-) Part one would also flow better into part two as a result.
It's interesting to note that Moreland, in a lecture I attended, did lay out the basic themes of the book in more user friendly language. I think his position is well articulated in the book, book it would be of greater benefit to many more if he would put out a version more like his lecture.
By the way, here is a VERY important piece of advice: The average reader will follow Moreland's reasoning MUCH better if you get a hold of his lectures on the same subject, or at least get a copy of a taped radio program in which he discussed the book (The web site for STAND TO REASON).
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the more difficult books that I have read recently. Sections of the book can be difficult and require focus; this is NOT beach reading.
The authors' intended audience:
"We have chosen to write the book at what we consider to be a fairly high academic level because we are convinced the view of a human person we affirm must be articulated and defended at that level for it to gain a hearing both within the Christian community and in the secular academic setting. Still, we hope a nonspecialist will be able to gain much from the pages that follow." (page 14)
There are one or two sections in the book that defend the existence of an immaterial soul from the Bible (against those Christian thinkers who deny it) however; this book is not primarily an explanation/analysis of Scripture. As the authors themselves state, 'In this work we have attempted to make a case for the view of a human person that is both consistent with biblical teaching and that makes philosophical sense.' (page 343)
To skeptics of the existence of the soul, to those who would argue that science has rendered the concept false, to those who argue that the concept of the immaterial soul is a foreign Greek concept that has nothing to do with the Bible, read this book. Moreland and Rae present a very strong case for the soul (their particular version of this: Thomistic substance dualism), they refute or significantly weaken most of the commonly offered critiques of their view and refute or critique the views that compete against theirs.
There are 521 footnotes spread over 345 pages of text; averaging roughly 50 footnotes per chapter. I really liked this aspect of the book; the authors would frequently refer to other relevant literature and refer the reader to investigate it if interested.
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Format: Paperback
I first came in contact with this work as I was preparing a response/critique to James P. Moreland's chapter in _The New Mormon Challenge_ (titled "The Absurdities of Mormon Materialism"). It was suggested to me by one of Moreland's friends and associates, Carl Mosser, as a good introduction to Thomistic dualism (as opposed to the better-known Cartesian dualism). I am now thankful for Carl's suggestion and this work.
The Thomistic view of the soul is, in my mind, more advanced and more cogent than the Cartesian view of the soul. It differentiates between spirit/soul and mind, presenting the latter as a faculty of the soul and not it's very essence. It provides a better explanation of the mind-body (or soul-body) problem by asserting that the soul is the teleological foundation of the formation of the body (i.e., the soul directs the growth and development of the body). Further, this view emphasizes the need for a working brain that can also affect the spirit/mind for cognitive occurrences (this point is argued more vigorously in works outside of _Body and Soul_ by other authors, though Moreland hints at it in this work).
The only disappointment for me was Moreland's insistence on critiquing the reductionistic class of materialism. For me, personally, the reductionists have too many theoretical problems to be a viable solution. I would have enjoyed a further critique of the emergent view of mind that is quickly becoming more prominent in scientific circles (Robert Nadeau, one of the reductionists that Moreland cites, has altered his conceptions towards this view; see _The Non-Local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind_).
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