New from the Executive Director of the Center for Process Studies, Wm. Andrew Schwartz, The Metaphysics of Paradox: Jainism, Absolute Relativity, and Religious Pluralism.
Andrew says, “I enjoy asking ‘big questions’ about the kinds of things we usually just take for granted. That’s what this book does. I wanted to push myself to a new understanding of truth, contradiction, and the nature of ultimate reality. A comparative study of Jainism and Western thinkers on these matters proved extremely fruitful.”
Organized into three parts, Andrew’s book covers the following themes: (1) Pluralism Debates in Western Philosophy of Religion; (2) Foundations for Religious Pluralism: A Jain Perspective; and (3) New Considerations: The Structure of Pluralistic Thinking. His approach to pluralism evaluates many Christian-centric scholars and introduces a practical and ethical perspective on pluralism from Jain thought – a perspective unknown to many.
“In a way, this book emerged out of my research in India with the International School of Jain Studies. What I found within Jainism was a comfortability with what we might term ‘paradox.’ Much of the violence between members of different faith communities is the result of black/white, either/or binary frameworks. To claim that one religion is true is often to imply that another religion is false. Even religious pluralists (like John Hick and John Cobb) seem to maintain this either/or binary framework by adopting the principle of non-contradiction (the idea that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time). But Jain philosophy transcends these true-false binaries; offering a vision of reality that is inherently paradoxical – even going so far as to paradoxically affirm that some contradictions are true. In my book, I argue that this paradoxical thinking could serve as the foundation for a new kind of religious pluralism – a deeper religious pluralism. If we can make sense of religious difference in a way that contradictory ultimate systems can be reconciled in their ultimacy, I think we will have a better philosophical basis for promoting peace and understanding between religions (and beyond),” says Andrew.
In addition to his work for CPS, Andrew is an adjunct professor of philosophy and theology at CST and the cofounder (with Dr. Philip Clayton) and Executive Vice President of EcoCiv or Institute for Ecological Civilization, an organization working to develop a comprehensive roadmap toward sustainability. He was a minister in the Church of the Nazarene and grew up in a multi-religious household (his father is Jewish and his mother Christian). Today, Andrew lives with his wife Audrey and their “precious little dog,” Oliver.