Michael Gottsegen Visiting Scholar in Religious Studies

Trained as a political theorist at Columbia University and in Religious Studies at Harvard, Michael Gottsegen (Ph.D., 1989) has worked in and out of academia since the early 1990s, having taught at Columbia and Brandeis before coming to Brown. A book based on his thesis, "The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt," was published in 1994. Pursuing a primary research interest at the nexus between contemporary Jewish and Christian theology, religious ethics, and political theory, he is presently completing a manuscript on the tension between ethics and politics in the thought of the French Jewish philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas. Bringing these same interests together in a practical way, Michael Gottsegen also works with the Association of Religious NGOs at the United Nations on behalf of the achievement of the UN's Millennium Development Goals. At Brown he has taught courses in Jewish thought and ethics with a focus on modern and contemporary developments. Dr. Gottsegen also teaches in the Core Curriculum program at Columbia University where he is an Assistant Professor of Political Science.

Brown Affiliations

scholarly work

The Path of the Spirit: Selfish or Selfless?

The Name We Dare Not Speak

The Return of the Jewish Cosmopolitan

Israelis and the Jewish Tradition: An Ancient People Debates its Future

Vote No on Bill 602P

When the Walls of Strict Separation Come Tumblin' Down

Arafat's Moment of Truth

For God and Country: Transcendence and Public Life

A Jewish Contribution to American Politics

Kol Nidrei, Release and Renewal

Religion and Politics Today,Tearing Down Walls, Building Bridges

America's Religions Come Together to Overcome Global Poverty

"Religion and Politics in Modernity: Good or Bad for the Jews" -- at The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, The University of Miami

"Spirituality and the Internet" -- at Makor: A Center for Jewish Life in New York City

"Religion as a Public Good: An Open Question" -- at Boston College

"Judaism and Peacemaking" -- at School of International Affairs, Columbia University.

"Religion and the Quest for Social Justice" -- at Fordham University

"Religion and the Millennium Development Goals" -- at the Church Center of the United Nations

"On Levinas's Political Theology: From Totality and Infinity to Otherwise than Being" delivered at Association for Jewish Studies Conference

"Interfaith Dialogue for the Sake of Global Peace and Development" a speech delivered at the United Nations' Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace

Recent Speaking Engagements and Lectures

The Jews and Arabs of Israel: The Challenge of Coexistence (CLAL, 1996)

Ethical Leadership in a Time of Change (CLAL, 1997)

Jewish Ethics, Jewish Organizations and the Challenge of Ethical Fundraising (CLAL, 2000)

"A Theologian Charts a New Course Between Orthodoxy and Secularity: For David Hartman, Opposition to Pluralism Is Idolatry in Modern, Even Murderous Guise," The Forward (2000) [book review]

"Religion and the Public Good," in Alan Mittleman, ed., Religion as a Public Good (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)

"America's Religions Come Together to Overcome Global Poverty," on Beliefnet.com (2005)

Books, Selected Articles and Monographs:

The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994)

"Levinas and Politics" -- at the Association for Jewish Studies Annual Meeting

"Faith and Freedom Online: The Internet and the Democratization of Religion" -- at The Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center in New York City

Selection of On-Line Articles – appearing in eCLAL: An Online Journal of Religion, Public Life and Culture

Zero Point Seven

Bin Laden or Terrorism - Getting Clear on the Real Enemy

From Tiresome to Tantalizing: What an Election!

The Death Penalty in America: Unjustified Violence?

Looking for a Piece of the Action

A Renewed Politics of Communal Solidarity

The Spirituality of Politics

research overview

Michael Gottsegen studies the relation between religion and public/political life, mainly in the modern period, and how Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers conceive this relation in theological, philosophical and political terms. He also writes about ideas of collective and political responsibility, and about the role of religions in ongoing struggles for economic and social justice in a time of globalization. These themes come together in his current work on French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.

research statement

Michael Gottsegen has a continuing research interest in the relation between religion and public/political life, especially in the modern period, and in how this relation has been conceptualized theologically, philosophically and politically by Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers. He is presently in the midst of a writing project which explores the ethical, religious and political thought of Emmanuel Levinas and reflects his broader research interest in contemporary religious and secular conceptualizations of transcendence, and in the place of transcendence in contemporary political theologies. Another of his current research projects focuses on modern notions of collective and political responsibility, as these have been construed by secular and religious thinkers, and on the practical and political implications of these ideas for how the West ought to approach the challenges of achieving economic and social justice on a global scale in an era of globalization.

funded research

N/A