Multiple research approaches are represented at the Cohn Institute, primarily history and philosophy of science and of social thought and culture. The disciplinary approaches of the faculty are brought to bare on a variety of domains. The history and philosophy of the physical science and technology and history and philosophy of the life science are particularly well represented, traditionally as well as currently. Another focus of activity has been cultural criticism, the history of social thought, and their relation to history of science and ideas, and hence the history and philosophy of the human sciences. Work on the history of Jewish, Muslim, and Middle-Eastern thought is seen as being of particular relevance for the Institute, as the research in the Institute is always done with attention to society at large.
Advanced graduate students enrich the Institute with work spanning other domains, from aesthetics to modern digital technologies. Students at the Institute come from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds and bring the tradition of scholarship at the Institute in contact with pressing social and intellectual concerns. In addition, the Institute hosts several post-doctoral researchers and visiting faculty, creating a vibrant intellectual community.
Below are a few highlights of current research interests and activities of the faculty. Further details can be found on individual members' web pages.
History and Philosophy of the Physical and Mathematical Sciences
Prof. Leo Corry serves currently as Dean of the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities at TAU. He continues to conduct research on his two main topics of activity over the last years: (1) the Euclidean Tradition of the Middle ages and the Renaissance; (2) the History of Mathematics in the Age of the Electronic Computing. He was recently awarded a new research fund by the Israel Science Foundation, on the topic: "History of Computing in Israel, 1955-1985". Among his recent publications: A Brief History of Numbers, Oxford, Oxford University Press (2015). "Distributivity-like Results in the Medieval Traditions of Euclid's Elements: Between Geometry and Arithmetic", Mathesis Ser. V, Vol. 1 (2), (Jul. Dec. 2016). "Some distributivity-like results in the the medieval arithmetic of Jordanus Nemorarius and Campanus de Novara," Historia Mathematica (2016).
View Prof. Corry's lecture on the History of General Relativity
View Prof. Corry's lecture series on History and Rationality (Hebrew)
Prof. Menachem Fisch holds the Joseph and Ceil Mazer Chair for History and Philosophy of Science, at the Cohn Institute. He is Chair of the Cohn Institute's Board and Academic Committee, and is Co-Editor of HOPOS, The Journal of the International Society for the History of the Philosophy of Science. Among his recent publications: "Babbage's Two Lives", British Journal for the History of Science, 2014: 95-118. Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency, forthcoming 2017 from the University of Chicago Press. During the academic year of 2016-17 he will be Senior Fellow of the Frankfurt University Institute for Advanced Studes in the Humanities.
Prof. Shaul Katzir's book project From Sonar to Quartz Clock: Technology and physics in war, academy and industry explores the transformation of a specific phenomenon of physics – piezoelectricity from a subject of 'pure science' to a basis for practical technologies for locating submarines and telecommunication at the First World War and its aftermath. It examines the mutual transfer and influence of science on technology and vice-versa. A few publications related to this projects have been already published. A related project studies the influence of technology and especially technological needs on interwar physics. He organizes a series of workshops on the subject - interactions of interwar physics. The first took place in Tel Aviv, with corporation of Zurich centre for the history of knowledge in October 2015 (you can find the abstract here). The second will take place at Budapest Central European University in December 2016, and a special journal issue from the results is planned. Among his recent publications: "Time standards for the twentieth century – telecommunication, physics and the quartz clock," The Journal of Modern History (forthcoming March 2017). "Pursuing frequency standards and control: the invention of quartz clock technologies," Annals of Science, 73 (2016): 1-39. "Frequency and Time Standards from Acoustic to Radio: The First Electronic Clock," In: Lara Huber and Oliver Schlaudt (eds.) Standardization in Measurement: Philosophical, Historical and Sociological Issues, 2015. "Manchester at war: Bohr and Rutherford on problems of science, war and international communication," In: Finn Aaserud and Helge Kragh (eds.) One hundred years of the Bohr atom: Scientia Danica. Series M. Mathematica et physica, 1, 2015.
View Dr. Shaul Katzir's lecture on the Turn to Applied Quantum Mechanics
Dr. Ori Belkind holds an MSc in Physics from Tel Aviv University, an MA in philosophy from Northwestern University, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Washington. Currently Belkind is a senior lecturer at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas. Previous appointments include a position as an assistant professor at the University of Richmond. He also held post docs at the Cohn Institute and at the University of Western Ontario, as the Rotman Philosophy of Science post doc fellow, and was visiting fellow at the Philosophy of Science Center, at Pittsburgh University. He has also done work on the foundations of spacetime theories and classical physical theories, including classical mechanics and the special theory of relativity. In his book Physical Systems: Conceptual Pathways between Spacetime and Matter, Springer (2012), Belkind develops a philosophical approach to the foundations of space, time and classical physical theories.
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Prof. Eva Jablonka's main current project is a book that she is writing with Professor Simona Ginsburg (under contract with MIT Press, delivery due mid-2018) on the evolution of sentience (minimal consciousness). She is working intensely on this book, as well as on related papers with Simona Ginsburg and Zohar Bronfman. She is involved in theoretical work and the ongoing discussion accompanying it about what has become known as “The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis”. She is preparing a paper for a lecture at the Royal Society in a forthcoming meeting organized in partnership with the British Academy on New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives (November 7-9th 2016), which will be published with the other contributions to the meeting. She is a Fellow in the Sagol School for Brain Research at TAU.
View Prof. Eva Jablonka's lecture on Evolution in Four Dimensions
View Prof. Eva Jablonka's short talk about Epigenetics in Evolution
Dr. Ehud Lamm is the director of the Council of Higher Education funded Inter-University PhD Program in the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (a joint program of Tel Aviv University, The Hebrew University, and Bar Ilan University). His main research interests are the evolution of genomes and the evolution of higher cognitive functions in humans. He studies foundational issues in biology related to these questions using a combination of theoretical biology, modeling, and philosophical analysis. He is also working on philosophical issues related to scientific modeling and evolutionary narratives. With his co-workers he has recently been working on the notions of evolutionary drift, coevolution and development, as applied to the evolution of genome and of human mind and culture. His major current project, supported by an Israel Science Foundation grant, is concerned with the role of genome organization in evolution. The project includes a retelling of the history of 20th century genetics centred on attempts to conceptualize the organization of the genome rather than on the discovery of the gene. The project may lead to a monograph, tentatively titled The Living Genome. Among his recent and forthcoming publications: "Cultural group selection and holobiont evolution - a comparison of structures of evolution." In: Snait Gissis, Ehud Lamm, and Ayelet Shavit (eds.), Landscapes of Collectivity in the Life Sciences. MIT Press. 2017. "Big Dreams for Small Creatures: Ilana and Eugene Rosenberg's path to the Hologenome Theory." In: Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich (eds.), Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences. Chicago University Press. 2016. "Systems Thinking Versus Population Thinking: Genotype Integration and Chromosomal Organization 1930s-1950s." Journal of the History of Biology, 2015. "The genome as a developmental organ." Journal of Physiology, 2014.
Dr. Snait B. Gissis is currently working on three projects: (1) The completion of a book on Lamarckism and emerging social sciences (primarily sociology and psychology) in late 19thearly 20th century. (2) The editing of a book based on a workshop coorganized and coedited with Ehud Lamm and Ayelet Shavit entitled ”Landscapes of Collectivity”, to appear in the Vienna Series of Theoretical Biology to be published by MIT Press in 2017. (3) Carrying out ongoing research on Israeli geneticists dealing with genomic Jewish differences and Jewish commonalities. In particular, analyzing the researches on the genetics of Jews carried out by three generations of Israeli population geneticists who worked from after World War II, and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, until 2017. She shall be a member of the research group on social solidarity at Safra Center of TAU during the academic year 2016-2017.
History and Philosophy of the Human Sciences, Social Science, Cultural Criticism
Professor José Brunner holds a joint appointment at the Cohn Institute and the Buchmann Faculty of Law. At the Faculty of Humanities he also chairs the Eva & Marc Besen Institute for the Study of Historical Consciousness, where he edits the journal History & Memory. Brunner’s areas of research include the relationship between law, memory and identity, the history and politics of psychoanalysis, the politics of the mental health discourse on trauma, psychological theories of Nazism, modern and contemporary political thought, and the history of personal compensation for Holocaust survivors in Germany and Israel. His most recent book-length publications are: Beyond the Consulting Room: Psychological Discourse in Contemporary Culture (Tel Aviv: Resling, 2016) [Hebrew]. Co-Edited with Galia Plotkin-Amrami. Recht auf Wahrheit. Genese eines neuen Menschenrechts. Co-edited with Daniel Stahl (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2016). Die Politik des Traumas. Gewalterfahrungen und psychisches Leid in den USA, in Deutschland und im Israel/Palästina Konflikt (Frankfurt Adorno Lectures; Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2014).
Prof. Carlo Strenger researches the impact of globalization on personal identity, individual and collective meaning structures, and the pervasive sense of insignificance permeating contemporary global culture. In the last years he writes primarily on the crisis of the self-understanding of the Western world since 9/11 as reflected in as reflected in the discourse of public intellectuals coming from philosophy, psychology and political theory. He serves on the Scientific Board of the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, is Senior Research Fellow of the Center of Terrorism Studies at John Jay College, CUNY, member of the Seminar of Existential Psychoanalysis in Zurich, and on the Terrorism Monitoring Panel of the World Federation of Scientists.
Prof. Moshe Zuckermann’s areas of research are history and philosophy of the social and cultural sciences; the Frankfurt School; aesthetic theory and sociology of art; the impact of the Holocaust on the political cultures of Israel and Germany.
Among his books:
- Zweierlei Holocaust. Der Holocaust in den politischen Kulturen Israels und Deutschlands, Göttingen 1998
- Kunst und Publikum. Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner gesellschaftlichen Hintergehbarkeit, Göttingen 2002
- "Antisemit!" Ein Vorwurf als Herrschaftsinstrument, Vienna 2010
- Israels Schicksal. Wie der Zionismus seinen Untergang betreibt, Vienna 2014
- Freud und das Politische. Psychoanalyse, Emanzipation und Israel
Prof. Amos Morris – Reich’s recent work focuses on the history of photography, history of biologically oriented human sciences, and history of antisemitism and scientific racism, particularly in the German and Central European context, and he has a special interest in methodology and methodological questions in the social sciences. His current projects center on the philosopher of science and technology Vilém Flusser and on images of suffering and violence in the context of Jewish history. He has published two monographs The Quest for Jewish Assimilation in Modern Social Science (Routledge: New York, 2007); Race and Photography: Racial Photography as Scientific Evidence, 1876-1980 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016) and has co-edited two volumes: with Dirk Rupnow, Ideas of “Race” in the History of the Humanities, (Palgrave MacMillan: London, 2017) and with Margaret Olin,Photography and Imagination (Routledge: New York, 2020). He has also edited two volumes in Hebrew: Georg Simmel: "How is Society Possible?" and Other Essays (Ha-kibutz ha-meuchad: Tel-Aviv, 2012) and The Jewish Body and Other Protruding Organs: A Selection of Essays by Sander Gilman (Resling: Tel Aviv, 2015).
Dr. Ahmad Ighbariah is a senior lecturer at The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Sciences and Ideas and The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. His main area of interest is Islamic culture with special focus on philosophy, theology (Kalam) and logic. Apart from classical Islamic culture he is also interested in modern Arab thought and its relation with western thought, and he is active in a reading group at the Minerva Center that deals with Arabic thought in the 20th century. He is also interested in some aspects of Arabic literature, especially within the context of Israeli-Palestinian conflict after 1948. Dr. Ighbariah was recently awarded a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (4 years) devoted to the study of the theory of categories in late Islamic philosophy (after the 13th century). Among his recent publications: “The Theory of Signification in Arabic Logic and its Influence on Jurisprudence and Eloquence”, Al-Majalla: Journal of the Arabic Language Academy, Vol. 7, 2016 (pp. 39-69). “The Manifestations of Dream in the Age of Magic: A Study of Anat by Ahmad Husein”, Al-Karmil: Studies in Arabic Language and Literature , Vol. 36, 2016 (pp. 5-52).
Prof. Menachem Fisch is Director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies (CRIS) at Tel Aviv University in collaboration with the universities of Cambridge and Frankfurt. He is also Senior Fellow of the Kogod Center for the Renewal of Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. His recent publications on Jewish thought include: “Judaism and the Religious Value of Diversity and Dialogue: Drafting a Jewish Response to Nostra Aetate”, forthcoming in S. Alkier, M. Schneider, C. Wiese (eds.), Diversität - Differenz - Dialogoizität: Religion in Pluralen Kontexten, de Gruyter, 2016. "Deciding by Argument versus Proving by Miracle: The Myth-History of Talmudic Judaism’s Coming of Age", forthcoming Toronto Journal of Theology, 2017. The Rabbis’ Dispute of Religiosity: A Study of Talmudic Covenantal Theology (in final stages of preparation) (Hebrew). In addition, a volume dedicated to his work, entitled Menachem Fisch: The Rationality of Religious Dispute, was published by Brill in June 2016 as vol. 18 of the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers. Fisch has an Israel Science Foundation grant on The Rabbis’ Dispute of Religiosity: A Study of Talmudic Confrontational Theology.
View Prof. Menachem Fisch's lecture on the Humanities, Ethics and Religion
Medieval and Early Modern Thought
Prof. Yossef Schwartz is currently Head of School of Philosophy, Linguistics and Science studies. He is also Associate Professor at the Cohn Institute and was the director of the Institute from 2009 until 2015. He held the Martin Buber Chair for Jewish philosophy of religion at the department of evangelical theology, Goethe University of Frankfurt/Main, 2000-2002. Further teaching positions at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, and at the University of Heidelberg. He has held visiting research positions at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. He is the winner of an ERC Research Grant, dedicated to the study of the translation of "Latin philosophy into Hebrew" (Together with Alexander Fidora and Harvey Hames) and an ISF Research Grant, dedicated to Christian Hebraism and Christian Cabbala. His research focuses on late medieval and early modern intellectual history, with emphasize on social and institutional dimensions of knowledge, on theory and praxis of translation, and on knowledge in migration, mostly within European culture. Among his publications: “To Thee is silence praise”: Meister Eckhart’s reading in Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, Tel Aviv: Am Oved 2002 (Hebr.); Y. Schwartz and V. Krech eds., Religious Apologetics – Philosophical Argumentation, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck Verlag, 2004; Yossef Schwartz, Alexander Fidora, Harvey J. Hames (eds.), Latin-Into-Hebrew: Studies and Texts, volume 2: Texts in Contexts, Leiden: Brill 2013.
Dr. Ori Belkind interests include the history and philosophy of physics, and early modern philosophy, in particular the philosophy and physics of Isaac Newton. His contributions to Newtonian scholarship include “Newton’s Conceptual Argument for Absolute Space”, (International Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2007) and “Newton’s Scientific Method and the Universal Law of Gravitation, in Interpreting Newton: Critical Essays, (Cambridge University Press, 2012).