Gottlieb, Roger S. 1946-

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Gottlieb, Roger S. 1946-


Born October 20, 1946, in White Plains, NY; married Miriam Greenspan (a psychotherapist); children: Anna, Esther. Education: Brandeis University, B.A., 1968, Ph.D. (summa cum laude), 1975.


Home—Boston, MA. Office—Department of Humanities and Arts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Rd., Worcester, MA 01609. E-mail[email protected].


Simmons College, Boston, MA, instructor, 1974; University of Connecticut, Storr, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, 1974-77; Tufts University, Medford, MA, assistant professor, 1978-80; Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, began as assistant professor, became professor of philosophy and Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, 1980—.


International Society for the Study of Environmental Ethics, American Philosophical Association, American Political Science Association, American Academy of Religion, Marxist Activist Philosophers, Philosophical Society for the Study of Genocide and the Holocaust (cofounder), Radical Philosophy Association, Interdisciplinary Environmental Association.


National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1980-81.


History and Subjectivity: The Transformation of Marxist Theory, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1987, new edition, Humanities Press (Atlantic Highlands, NJ), 1993.

(Editor) An Anthology of Western Marxism: From Lukacs and Gramsci to Socialist-Feminism, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor) A New Creation: America's Contemporary Spiritual Voices, Crossroad (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor) Thinking the Unthinkable: Meanings of the Holocaust, Paulist Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Marxism, 1844-1990: Origins, Betrayal, Rebirth, Routledge (New York, NY), 1992.

(Editor) Radical Philosophy: Tradition, Counter-Tradition, Politics, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1993.

(Editor) This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996, 2nd edition, 2004.

(Editor) The Ecological Community: Environmental Challenges for Philosophy, Politics, and Morality, Routledge (New York, NY), 1997.

A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth, Crossroad (New York, NY), 1999, new edition, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2003.

(Editor, with David Landis Barnhill) Deep Ecology and World Religions: New Essays on Sacred Grounds, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2001.

Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change, Westview Perseus Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

(Editor) Liberating Faith: Religious Voices for Justice, Peace, and Ecological Wisdom, Rowman & Little-field (Lanham, MD), 2003.

A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

(Editor) The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to academic and popular publications, including Journal of Philosophy, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Ethics, Boston Globe and Orion Afield. Book review editor, Social Theory and Practice; review columnist, Tikkun; member of editorial board, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: A Journal of Socialist Ecology, and Worldviews: Religion, Nature, Culture.


Professor of philosophy Roger S. Gottlieb is an authority on such disparate subjects as the "political, ethical, and religious dimensions of the environmental crisis," according to a biographical article on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Web site, "and on the broad social and normative connections between religion and politics." His anthology This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment gathers writings on the relationship between religious faith and the natural world. "For thousands of years," Gottlieb wrote in A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future, excerpted in Tikkun, "religious writings have described these experiences as the product of encounters with God, or with states of mind stemming from meditation, prayer, and contemplation. Yet they are also to be found at the heart of environmentalism. It is precisely because for many of us the encounter with the rest of life on earth—indeed at times with the universe as a whole—provokes profound feelings of awe and reverence, mystery and serenity, that we commit ourselves to its protection."

Gottlieb's work brings together all the elements of his many different interests: his own Jewish roots, his early interest in revolutionary Marxism, his rediscovery of spirituality, his sense of history, and his interest in the relationship between religion and environmentalism. Religion, he says, offers us a tool with which we can change environmental decline—using the lessons in resistance taught in Marxism. "Behind every move Gottlieb makes in [A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth] lie the lessons of the Holocaust—one of which is that even 'good' people can blind themselves to the evil that is going on in front of their eyes," explained America contributor David S. Toolan. "The environmental crisis is like that, a vast destruction of life in which we all participate, that threatens to overwhelm us, that we therefore seek to avoid or deny if only to hold on to our jobs—and that won't go away just because we wish it would. It will go away only if we resist, if we fight it, if we get our hands dirty in politics."

Furthermore, suggested Paul Wapner in a Tikkun review of Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change, spirituality/religion and politics can reinvigorate one another. "Religious or spiritual perspectives (Gottlieb equates the two) are broader than political ones," Wapner said. "Spiritual sentiment is premised on the notion that there is more to life than meets the eye and thus more to it than today's immediate political project. Gottlieb shows how religion provides a broader framework of meaning for politics and how such frames help one invest more fully in activist work." "Faith in science and materialist/liberal democracies," wrote Charlene Spretnak in Whole Earth, "has been undermined by the political violence, technological disasters and cultural bankruptcy of the late twentieth century." Even the traditional ideological refuge of the left, Marxism, has become questionable, thanks to the collapse of Soviet-style Communism in the 1990s. Gottlieb's style of spirituality offers the Left a new direction. "Gottlieb shows how religion can inform and improve political activism, and how political thinking can aid religious activism," declared Charles Seymour in a Library Journal review of A Greener Faith. First, politics can help religious activism by explicating the social context of religious right action … [and] second, religion can teach political activists how to be authentically human." "Questions of politics, economics, and social justice, previously ignored by many ecophilosophers, are increasingly seen as unavoidable if our environmental problems are to be addressed," Jonathan Maskit wrote in an Ethics review of The Ecological Community: Environmental Challenges for Philosophy, Politics, and Morality. "These essays take this threat seriously and contribute to the important philosophical project of trying to save ourselves ecologically without sacrificing who we are."

Gottlieb told CA: "I write philosophically about the intersection of personal experience and aspiration, on the one hand, and the forces of collective social life on the other: social structures and political activism, historical context and spiritual response, the looming environmental crisis and the capacity of traditional religions to help us all change our ways. My politics are generally so far to the left that I occasionally fall off the planet; but, as I once said when speaking at a holistic health center and was asked what kind of Marxist I was, I try to be 'a nice Marxist.' My spirituality is essentially non-metaphysical. It is about learning how to live with love, make peace with and overcome the grasping demands of ego, pray with sincerity as a way to focus intention, and meditate as a way to clear the mind. I take inspiration from the men and women who resist the forces of destruction and unreason—Mordechai Aniliewitz who led the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, Chico Mendez who resisted the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest, Ken Saro-Wiwa who lent his strength to defend the Ogoni of Nigeria being devastated by oil development, the extraordinary-ordinary women who helped created the environmental justice movement in the U.S. And I take inspiration as well from intellectuals who have tried to understand the causes of human suffering, the mysteries of the human heart, and the possibilities of our future: Buddha and the prophets of the bible, Marx and Kierkegaard, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Elie Wiesel and Joanna Macy, feminist theorists and environmental ethicists. As an intellectual my subject matter is defined by what is important to human beings in particular and to the web of life as a whole. As a writer I seek to communicate as clearly as possible. Life is too short—and too difficult—to waste time and effort in needless obscurity or passing academic fashions."



America, October 16, 1999, David S. Toolan, "God's Good Earth: A Spirituality of Resistance," p. 24.

Booklist, February 15, 1999, Steven Schroeder, review of A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth, p. 1006; July, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change, p. 1800.

Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 2006, Jennifer Howard, "The Role of Religion in Environmentalism."

Ethics, January, 1999, Jonathan Maskit, review of The Ecological Community: Environmental Challenges for Philosophy, Politics, and Morality, p. 480.

Library Journal, April 1, 2001, Sandra Collins, review of Deep Ecology and World Religions: New Essays on Sacred Ground, p. 105; August 1, 2006, Charles Seymour, review of A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future, p. 94.

Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2006, "Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future: Promises of a Greener Faith," p. 57.

Social Theory and Practice, January, 2004, Eric Katz, review of Joining Hands, p. 151.

Tikkun, January-February, 2004, Paul Wapner, "Spiritual Politics," p. 77; May-June, 2006, "Environmentalism As Spirituality," p. 21.

Whole Earth, winter, 1997, Charlene Spretnak, review of This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, p. 9.


Roger S. Gottlieb, Professor of Philosophy, (November 29, 2006), author biography.

Religious Studies in Secondary Schools, (November 29, 2006), James D. Mc-Garry, review of This Sacred Earth, and Sher Sweet, review of A Spirituality of Resistance.