Analytic Jewish Philosophical Theology
October 2, 2016 - July 31, 2019
Core Funding Area:
Director: Dr Samuel LebensInstitution: The University of Haifa
How do God and time intersect? What is the relationship between God and creatures? What can we know about God’s attributes? To what extent is imagination a key component of religiosity, and what are the philosophical ramifications of imagination’s role in the religious life?
This project explores these Big Questions through the lens of analytic and Jewish theology. When brought into conversation, these two fields enrich one another. The unifying characteristics of analytic philosophy are a style of writing and shared intellectual history. Its writing style encourages sentences that can be formalized and logically manipulated; precision, clarity, and logical coherence; avoidance of non-decorative metaphors; the use of well-understood primitive concepts; and clear definitions of new terms and concepts.
Jewish thought has hitherto had limited engagement with analytic philosophy. Analytic philosophy is the mainstay of English-speaking philosophy departments. Jewish thought, meanwhile, tends to be relegated to Jewish Studies departments, where Continental (i.e., non-analytic) philosophy prevails. Furthermore, these departments, in large part, teach Jewish thought as intellectual history.
Sir John Templeton wrote, “To many, religion sometimes seems like a kind of history museum which lacks the excitement and vibrancy of other aspects of life that constantly experience innovation.” In treating Jewish thought as a sort of museum exhibit, philosophy departments substantiate Sir John’s claim. Moreover, Jewish thought’s relationship to continental philosophy, which does not always prize clear and rigorous articulation, is problematic. This relationship has made it difficult for Jewish thought to engage in conversation with the empirical sciences, which do prize such rigor. This project seeks to revitalize Jewish philosophy. To this end, we will develop and sustain an analytic school of Jewish thought using the tools of analytic philosophy. In doing so, we seek to develop answers to the Big Questions from a Jewish perspective.
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