Monday, November 24, 2008

World Philosophies by Ninian Smart (Oliver Leaman, ed.)

It appears to be a well-established norm in the blogosphere that one takes advantage of the opportunity provided by the medium to inform others of one's work, both in-progress and published. Of course there's often the accompanying ritualistic apologia by way of acknowledging the fact one recognizes the provision of such information is an act of self-promotion. I think there's nothing wrong with (or to be ashamed or embarrassed about) letting others know of such work, particularly insofar as an intimate acquaintance with it will bring substantial benefits! In this case, the material is principally the product of someone else: the late Ninian Smart, and I've made only a very modest contribution. It's the second edition of his World Philosophies (2008), edited by Oliver Leaman. Ninian was my undergraduate and graduate teacher in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, some years ago, and a dear friend. I was asked by Oliver to update and expand the bibliography (now over eighty pages), which covers philosophies and religions in a geo-historical and globally sensitive manner. The publisher's webpage for the book describes it as follows:

"World Philosophies presents in one volume a superb introduction to all the world’s major philosophical and religious traditions. Covering all corners of the globe, Ninian Smart’s work offers a comprehensive and global philosophical and religious picture. In this revised and expanded second edition, a team of distinguished scholars, assembled by the editor Oliver Leaman, have brought Ninian Smart’s masterpiece up to date for the twenty-first century. Chapters have been revised by experts in the field to include recent philosophical developments, and the book includes a new bibliographic guide to resources in world philosophies. A brand new introduction which celebrates the career and writings of Ninian Smart, and his contribution to the study of world religions, helps set the work in context."

Alas, this description is not wholly accurate: I am not a "distinguished scholar," although the appellation does apply to my fellow contributors. The book is available in both hardcover and paperback editions and comes with the highest recommendation from yours truly.


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