Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters

Columbia Univ. Nov. 2018. 336p. illus. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780231189460. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231548342. REL
Rubenstein (religion & feminist, gender & sexuality studies, Wesleyan Univ.; Worlds Without End) sets out to investigate why pantheism is viewed by theists and atheists alike as a monstrous amalgam of mind and matter. While theists typically interpret mind or spirit as supernatural, atheists tend to ignore mind altogether. Although the author often refers back to Greek philosophy and the myth of Pan, Rubenstein's trajectory starts with Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. She is also indebted to philosopher/psychologist William James, who makes a distinction between the pantheism found in Spinoza that is distributed and pluralistic. Rubenstein uses the latter to address issues she finds plaguing most theologies and atheologies, such as the problem of evil or freewill. However, she does not explore James's idea of neutral monism.
VERDICT Rubenstein's examination of pantheism renders a comprehensive and pluralistic view of the cosmos that will interest readers curious about the intersection of religion and philosophy.

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