Menachem Fisch



Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Tel Aviv University

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
July 2013; October 2016−August 2017

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»The Dialogical Project of Judaism's Formative Canon: Re-defining Rational Theology«

Project outline:
Following in the wake of my earlier philosophical work on the inherently dialogical nature of normative self critique, my present project seeks to lay the foundations for the second part of the new study of the Talmudic literature I embarked on during my stay at the Kolleg in the Summer of 2013. The first part of that work, now complete, purported to systematically expose and analyze the fundamental dispute of religiosity that grounds that literature, with special reference to the voice of confrontational (as opposed to submissive) theology that it harbors. If the first part of the project focused on the »vertical« axis of religious obligation toward Judaism's four main sources of religious authority, the second part, to which I wish to devote the lion's share of my time in Bad Homburg, will focus on the concentric circles of dialogical engagement along »horizontal« axis of religious discourse that constitute that literature's profound dialogism.
This will also provide the basis for my contribution to a joint project with Prof. Christian Wiese on the origins and meaning of »the dialogical turn« in modern Jewish thought, that, we argue, dovetails intriguingly with the dialogical nature of the rabbinic canon of late antiquity on which my work focuses. (Menachem Fisch)

Research partner:
Menachem Fisch follows the invitation of Christian Wiese, Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Frankfurt University, and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, Director of the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften and Professor of Philosophy at Frankfurt University. In 2013, his research stay was supported by the Graduiertenkolleg »Theology as a Science« (DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1728). His stay in 2016/17 is supported by the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University. At Goethe University,

Scholarly profile of Menachem Fisch


Menachem Fisch is Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science nd Director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University. He has held visiting research positions at Queen’s College, Oxford, Trinity College, Cambridge, The Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Dibner Institute for Advanced Study in the History of Science and Technology, MIT, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the Collegium Budapest. In 2016 he was awarded the Humboldt Research Prize, and, in 2017, an Honorary Doctorate at Goethe University. In 2018 he was awarded a Senior Fellow des Forschungskollegs Humanwissenschaften and chairs the Forum for the Study of Interreligious Dynamics (2018–2021, together with Christian Wiese) − A volume dedicated to his work was published in 2016: Menachem Fisch: The Rationality of Religious Dispute, ed. by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes, Leiden: Brill 2016. (= vol 18 of the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers).

Main areas of research:
Philosophy of language, science, normativity, agency and self; History of 19th century British Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics; Theology of the Talmudic Literature; Philosophy of Talmudic Legal Reasoning; Interreligious studies.

Selected publications:
  1. Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency , University of Chicago Press) 2017
  2. »Judaism and the Religious Value of Diversity and Dialogue: Drafting a Jewish Response to Nostra Aetate«, in S. Alkier, M. Schneider, C. Wiese (eds.), Diversität - Differenz - Dialogoizität: Religion in Pluralen Kontexten, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015.
  3. »Science, Religion, and Rationality – A Neo-Hegelian Approach«, in: The Toronto Journal of Theology (2013).
  4. »How and Why I Write History of Science«, in: Science in Context (2013).
  5. (with Y. Benbaj), The View from Within. Normativity and the Limits of Self-Criticism, University of Notre Dame Press, 2011.
  6. Rational Rabbis. Science and Talmudic Culture, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.
  7. ›To Know Wisdom‹. Science, Rationality and Thora-study (Hebrew), Tel Aviv: Hakkibutz Hameuchad, 1994.
  8. William Whewell. Philosopher of Science , Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.