Lenn Evan Goodman was born 21 March 1944 to Calvin and Florence Goodman. An expert in both Jewish and Islamic though, he is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University.
He received his BA from Harvard (summa cum laude) in philosophy and Near Eastern languages and literatures. From 1965 to 1968 he was a Marshall Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He received his DPhil from Oxford University in 1968.
Positions held include: Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Near Eastern Languages and Literature at UCLA (1968–1969) Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii (1969–1974) Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii (1974–1981) Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii (1981–1994) and Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University from 1994 to the present (2007).
Professor Goodman has received numerous awards, including the Baumgardt Memorial Award of the American Philosophical Association and the Gratz Centennial Prize. He was a Littman Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, a Humanities Fellow at the East-West Center, an Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellow of the University of Hawaii, and a fellow of the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University. In 1995 he was at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is the recipient of grants from the NEH, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Matchette Foundation.
Dr. Goodman has served on the editorial boards of Philosophy East and West, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, Asian Philosophy, and History of Philosophy Quarterly. He has authored over a hundred articles as well as the following books: Monotheism: A Philosophic Inquiry into the Foundations of Theology and Ethics (1981), On Justice: An Essay in Jewish Philosophy (1991), Avicenna (1992), God of Abraham (1992), Judaism, Human Rights and Human Values (1998), Jewish and Islamic Philosophy: Crosspollinations in the Classic Age (1999), In Defense of Truth: A Pluralistic Approach (2001) and Islamic Humanism (2003). Avicenna has appeared in Italian translation and Islamic Humanism in Turkish. Works that Professor Goodman has translated and provided commentaries on include: Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (1972), Rambam: Readings in the Philosophy of Moses Maimonides (1978), The Case of the Animals vs. Man before the King of the Jinn (1978), and Saadiah ben Joseph al-Fayyumi’s Book of Theodicy, a tenth-century Arabic commentary and translation of the book of Job (1988).
Professor Goodman’s first wife, the geneticist Madeleine Joyce Goodman, died in 1996. She served as academic vice president of the University of Hawaii and was the first woman dean of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt. Their two daughters are the novelist Allegra Goodman and Paula Fraenkel MD, a haematologist-oncologist. Dr. Goodman is married to Roberta Walter Goodman, an authority on healthcare policy and finance.