February 23, 1950
White Plains, New York
|Spouse(s)||Sheldon Goldstein (divorced)
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (born February 23, 1950) is an American novelist and philosopher. She has written five novels, a number of short stories and essays, and biographical studies of mathematician Kurt Gödel and philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
Life and career 
Goldstein, born Rebecca Newberger, grew up in White Plains, New York, and did her undergraduate work at City College of New York, UCLA, and Barnard College, where she graduated as valedictorian in 1972. She was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. She has one older brother who is an Orthodox Rabbi, and she also has a younger sister. After earning her Ph.D. from Princeton University, where she studied with Thomas Nagel and wrote a dissertation on “Reduction, Realism and the Mind,” she returned to Barnard as a professor of philosophy. There she published her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem (1983), a serio-comic tale of the conflict between emotion and intelligence, combined with reflections on the nature of mathematical genius, the challenges faced by intellectual women, and Jewish tradition and identity. Goldstein said she wrote the book to "...insert 'real life' intimately into the intellectual struggle. In short I wanted to write a philosophically motivated novel."
Her second novel, The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind (1989), was also set in academia, though with a far darker tone. Her third novel, The Dark Sister (1993), was something of a departure: a postmodern fictionalization of family and professional issues in the life of William James. Mazel followed in 1995. A "genius grant" from the MacArthur Fellows Program in 1996 led to the writing of Properties of Light (2000), a ghost story about love, betrayal, and quantum physics. Her latest novel is 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction (2010), which explores ongoing controversies over religion and reason through the tale of a professor of psychology who has written an atheist bestseller while his life is permeated with secular versions of religious themes such as messianism, divine genius, and the quest for immortality. The book contains a lengthy nonfiction appendix (attributed to the novel's protagonist) which details thirty-six traditional and modern arguments for the existence of God together with their refutations. Goldstein has published a collection of short stories, Strange Attractors (1993), that also treated "interactions of thought and feeling," to quote the cover jacket.
Recently Goldstein has turned to biography with her books Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel (2005) and Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity (2006). The books reflect her continuing interests in the relationship between the life of the mind and the demands of everyday existence and the ways in which classical philosophical topics such as personal identity and the nature of truth play out in people's lives. Betraying Spinoza combined a continuing interest in Jewish ideas and history with an increasing concern with secularism, humanism, and atheism. Together with 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction it established her as a prominent figure in the humanist movement, part of a wave of "new new atheists" marked by less divisive rhetoric and a greater representation of women. In 2011 she was named "Humanist of the Year" by the American Humanist Association and "Freethought Heroine" by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
In addition to Barnard, Goldstein has taught at Columbia, Rutgers, and Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and she is currently a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities in London. She has held visiting fellowships at Brandeis University, the Santa Fe Institute, Yale University, and Dartmouth College. In 2011 she delivered the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Yale University, entitled "The Ancient Quarrel: Philosophy and Literature."
Goldstein has served on several book prize juries, including the National Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize of the Jewish Book Council, written in The New York Times Book Review, and blogged for the Washington Post "On Faith" section.
Goldstein lives in Boston and Truro. She divorced her first husband, physicist Sheldon Goldstein, and married Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. She is the mother of the novelist Yael Goldstein Love and the poet Danielle Blau.
Awards and fellowships 
- 2013 Shelley Lecturer, British Humanist Association, Oxford
- 2013 Montgomery Fellow, Dartmouth College
- 2012 Franke Visiting Fellow, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University
- 2011 Humanist of the Year awarded April 2011 by the American Humanist Association
- 2011 Freethought Heroine awarded October 2011 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation
- 2011 Miller Scholar, Santa Fe Institute
- Best Fiction Book of 2010 ("36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction"), Christian Science Monitor
- Honorary Doctorate, Emerson College, 2008
- Humanist Laureate, awarded by the International Academy of Humanism, 2008
- Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, 2006–2007
- Guggenheim Fellow, 2006–2007
- Koret Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought, 2006, for Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity
- Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2005
- Honorary Doctorate, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
- MacArthur Fellow, 1996
- National Jewish Book Award, 1995, for Mazel
- Edward Lewis Wallant Award, 1995, for Mazel
- National Jewish Book Award for her book of short stories, Strange Attractors
- Graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, receiving the Montague Prize for Excellence in Philosophy,
- While at Princeton University, she was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship
- Whiting Foundation Fellowship, 1991
See also 
- "Rebecca Goldstein web site". Retrieved 2006-11-07.
- Crace, John (June 17, 2008). "Interview: Harvard University's Steven Pinker". The Guardian (London).
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter G". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "Rebecca Newberger Goldstein bio". Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- Official website
- Ron Charles (2010) Review of "36 Arguments for the Existence of God" in the Washington Post.
- Peter Lopatin (2010) Review of "36 Arguments for the Existence of God", in Commentary
- Interview on CBC Writers & Company with Eleanor Wachtel
- Dialogue with Robert Wright on bloggingheads.tv
- Jake Wallis Simons (2010) There's a third person in this marriage - Spinoza, Profile in The Times
- Jenny Attiyeh (2010) Rebecca Goldstein, the atheist with a soul in an interview on Thoughtcast, which was also broadcast on WGBH (FM)
- Steve Paulson (2007) Proud Atheists, in Salon.
- Luke Ford (2006) Interview on personal life at lukeford.net
- Robert Pollie (2010) Author in dialogue on 36 Arguments for the Existence of God from the 7th Avenue Project Radio Show.
- Paul Comstock (2007) Interview on Baruch Spinoza from California Literature Review.
- Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (2006) "Reasonable Doubt", an essay on Spinoza's influence on John Locke at Edge.org
- Michael Weiss & Rebecca Goldstein (2007) "A Kibitz on Pure Reason": A three-day dialogue on "Betraying Spinoza" from Jewcy.
- Rebecca Goldstein Theory, Literature, Hoax in New York Times Sunday Book Review.
- Thomas Apolis (2010) Response to "Theory, Literature, Hoax"
- Caitrin Nicol (2010) "Disenchanting Determinism", commentary on 36 Arguments for the Existence of God in The New Atlantis.
- Caroline Seabohm (1983) Review of "The Mind Body Problem" in the New York Times