Prof. Menachem Fisch

Emeritus in Technical College
faculty of humanities
History and Philosophy of Science Inst.
בית הספר להנדסאים אמריטוס
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Prof. Menachem Fisch
Phone: 3113
Another phone: 03-6409198
Fax: 03-6405628
Office: Gilman-humanities, 436



Menachem Fisch is Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science, and Director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University, and Senior Fellow of the Goethe University Frankfurt's Forschungskolleg Humanwisseschaften, Bad Homburg 

He is former President of the Israel Society for History and Philosophy of Science, and former Chair of the National Committee for History and Philosophy of Science at the Israel Academy of Science.

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, Collegium Budapest, and the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Bad Homburg.

He has published widely on the history of 19th century British science and mathematics, on confirmation theory and rationality, on the theology of the talmudic literature, and the philosophy of talmudic legal reasoning. His recent work explores the limits of normative self-criticism, the Talmud's dispute of religiosity, the possibilities of articulating a pluralist political philosophy from within the assumptions of halakhic Judaism, the history and philosophy of scientific framework transitions, and the theo-political roots of Israel's reaction against political Zionism.

A volume dedicated to his work, entitled Menachem Fisch: The Rationality of Religious Dispute, was published as Vol. 18 of the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers, (eds. H. Samuelson-Tiroshi and A. W. Hughes), (Brill, 2016).

A special issue of Open Philosophy dedicated to his work, entitled Changing One's Mind: Philosophy, Religion And Science, (special editors Y. Schwartz, P. Franks, and C. Wiese) was published in 2020.

He is recepient of the Humboldt Research Prize (2016).

And was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Goethe University, Frankfurt in 2017

Menachem Fisch is Chair of the Cohn Institute’s Board and Academic Committee.



a.     Books and Monographs


Books by Menachem Fisch

  1. William Whewell Philosopher of Science, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
  2. 'To Know Wisdom' - Science, Rationality and Torah-study, (Hebrew), Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1994.
  3. Rational Rabbis: Science and Talmudic Culture, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.
  4. The View from Within: Normativity and the Limits of Self-Criticism, South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011 (with Y. Benbaji)
  5. Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2017
  6. Covenant of Confrontation: A Study of Non-Submissive Religiosity in Rabbinic Literature (Hebrew), Bar Ilan University Press, 2019.
  7. The Enemy Within: Political Zionism and its Faithful Adversaries (Hebrew), Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 2021.
  8. Dialogues of Reason: Science, Politics, Religion (The Dagmar Westberg Lectures 2020, with Responses by Julie E. Cooper, Lorraine Daston, Paul Franks, Suzanne Last Stone, Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, Thomas M. Schmidt, Christian Wiese, and Claudia Welz), Wuerzburg: Echter Verlag, (forthcoming) 2022.
  9. Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living, Waco TX: Baylor University Press, forthcoming 2023 (with Debra Band).

Edited Volumes

  1. William Whewell: A Composite Portrait, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991 (edited with S.J. Schaffer).
  2. Pathways into German Jewish Intellectual and Religious History: Studies in Conversation with Christian Wiese, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter (forthcoming) 2023 (edited with H. Schulz and S. Voght).

Books and special issues on Fisch’s Work

  1. Menachem, Fisch: The Rationality of Religious Dispute, edited by H. Tirosh-Samuelson & A.W. Hughes, Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers, vol.18, Leiden: Brill, 2016.
  2. Changing One's Mind: Philosophy, Religion And Science, Special issue of Open Philosophy 3, 2020, eds. Y. Schwartz, P. Franks, & C. Wiese.
  3. Trusted Critics, eds. N. J. Efron and A. Furstenberg, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, (forthcoming) 2022.

b.     Journal Articles

  1. "Hempel's Ravens, The Natural Classification of Hypotheses and the Growth of Knowledge", Erkenntnis, 21: 45-62, 1984.
  2. "Whewell's Consilience of Inductions - An Evaluation", Philosophy of Science, 52: 239-55, 1985.
  3. "Necessary and Contingent Truth in William Whewell's Antithetical Theory of Knowledge", Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 16: 275-314, 1985.
  4. "A Physicists' Philosopher: James Clerk Maxwell on Mathematical Physics", Journal of Statistical Physics, 51: 309-19, 1988.
  5. "The Problematic History of Explaining Science", (Hebrew) Alpayim, 1: 194-208, 1989.
  6. "Learning from Experience", E. Eells & T. Maruszewski (eds.), Probability and Rationality: Studies on L. Jonathan Cohen's Philosophy of Science - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, 21: 65-79, 1991.
  7. "Science Naturalized, Science Denatured: Reflections on Ronald Giere's Explaining Science", History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 13: 187-221, 1991 (with N.J. Efron).
  8. "Being, Becoming, Creation and the Crisis of Baconianism in the Nineteenth Century", (Hebrew) Alpayim, 4: 224-232, 1991.
  9. "Ein Blick vorwärts in die Vergangenheit: Ein Fall für den historischen Nominalismus" ("Looking Forward to the Past: A Case for Historical Nominalism"), Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 40: 1279-94, 1992
  10. "Towards a Rational Theory of Progress", Synthese, 99: 277-304, 1994.
  11. "Trouble-Shooting Creativity", History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 16: 141-153, 1994.
  12. "The Emergency Which has Arrived: The Problematic History of 19th Century British Algebra - A Programmatic Outline", The British Journal for the History of Science, 27: 247-276, 1994.
  13. “The Debates between the Houses of Shammai and Hillel: The Meta-Halakhic Issue”, (Hebrew) Iyyunei Mishpat (The Tel Aviv University Law Review), 22 (3): 461-497, 1998 (with H. Shapira).
  14. “The Making of Peacock’s Treatise on Algebra: A Case of Creative Indecision”, Archive for History of Exact Science, 54: 137-179, 1999.
  15. “Scientific Dilemmas: Splits and Doubles in Early Victorian Science”, (Hebrew) Zemanim, 66: 77-90, 1999.
  16. “When Philosophers Encounter Texts”, (Hebrew) Theory and Criticism, 15: 19-24, 1999.
  17. “Astronomic Exegesis: Interpretation of the Heavens by Early Modern Jews”, Osiris, 16: 72-87, 2001 (with N.J. Efron).
  18. “The Covenant of Confrontation” (Hebrew), Alpayim, 22: 9-52, 2001.
  19. “A Modest Proposal: Toward a Religious Politics of Epistemic Humility”, Journal of Human Rights 2 (1): 49-64, 2003.
  20. “Through Thick and the Thin: a New Defense of Cultural Relativism”, Southern Journal of Philosophy, 42 (1): 1-24, 2004 (with Y. Benbaji).
  21. “Taking the Bavli Seriously”, Diné Yisrael: Studies in Halacha and Jewish Law, 23: 75-91, 2005.
  22. “Canon, controverse et réforme; une réflexion sur l'autre voix du judaïsme talmudique” (“Canon, Controversy and Reform: A Reflection on the Other Voice of Talmudic Judaism”), Les Cahiers du judaisme, 18: 61-75, 2005.
  23. “Factuality without Realism: Normativity and the Davidsonian Approach to Meaning”, Southern Journal of Philosophy, 43 (4): 505-530, 2005 (with Y. Benbaji).
  24. Rational Rabbis: its Project and Argument”, Journal of Textual Reasoning, 4 (2), March 2006 - special issue devoted to Rational Rabbis
  25. “Criticism, Interpretation and Canon: A Reply of Sorts”, loc. cit.
  26. Berakhot 19b: The Bavli's Paradigm of Confrontational Discourse,” loc. cit.
  27. "Legislation and Legal Norm Development in Jewish Law", Periodica de re Canonica, 96 (2007), 401-417.
  28. "Taking the Linguistic Turn Seriously", The European Legacy, 13 (5) (Special Issue on "The Languages of the Sciences and the Humanities", ed. Oren Harman), 2008, 605-622.
  29. "Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency", The Monist, 93,(4), (Special Issue on “Philosophical History of Science”, ed. Niccolo Guircciadini), Oct. 2010, pp. 518–544.
  30. “Science, Religion and Rationality – a Neo-Hegelian Approach”, Toronto Journal of Theology, 29/2, 2013, 319–336
  31. “How and Why I Write History of Science”, Science in Context, 26(4), 2013, 573-585.
  32. "Babbage's Two Lives," British Journal for the History of Science, 47(1), 2014, 95–118.
  33. “Criticism From Within versus Criticism From Without – My Debt to Yemima” (Hebrew), Iyyun – The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly, 64, April 2015, 160-171.
  34. "Deciding by Argument versus Proving by Miracle: The Myth-History of Talmudic Judaism’s Coming of Age", Toronto Journal of Theology, supplement 1, 2017, 103-127.
  35. “Ambivalence as a Jewish Value”, Tablet Magazine, September 2017.
  36. “Faith Reason and Dialogue: Science’s Great Debt to Christianity and Potential Debt to Judaism – A Response to Y. Gingras, Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017”, Metascience, 2019.
  37. “Job and the Bible’s Theo-Political Divide”, Religions, 2019, 10(1), 33;
  38. “Gulliver and the Rabbis: Counterfactual Truth in Science and the Talmud”, Religions, 2019, 10(3), 228;
  39. “The Talmudist Enlightenment: Talmudic Judaism’s Confrontational Rational Theology”, in special issue on Contemporary Jewish Perspectives on Divine Hiddenness, Religious Protest, European Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 12(2), 2020, 37-63.
  40. “The Tragic Paradox of Political Zionism”, Telos, 192, Fall 2020, 29-39.
  41. “Bossy Matrons and Forced Marriages: Talmudic Confrontationalism and its Philosophical Significance, Open Philosophy, 3, 2020, 335-348.
  42. “Talmudic Commentary and the Problem of Normative Self-Critique," Geschichte der Philologien, 57/58 (2020), 27-43.

c.     Chapters in Books

  1. Introductory Essay to the Hebrew Edition of Bacon's New Atlantis, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1986, 5-20
  2. "Il collegamento dei fatti: la nozione non necessaria di verità empirica di William Whewell" ("The Colligation of Facts: Whewell's Unecessary Notion of Empirical Truth"), R. Simili (ed.), L'epistemologia di Cambridge (1850-1950), Societa Editrice il Mulino, Bologna, 1987, 39-63.
  3. "A Philosopher's Coming of Age - A Study in Erotetic Intellectual History", in M. Fisch and S. Schaffer (eds.), William Whewell A Composite Portrait, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991, 31-66.
  4. "Antithetical Knowledge", loc. cit. , 1991, 289-309.
  5. "The Perpetual Covenant of Jewish Learning", in E. Spolsky (ed.), Summoning: Ideas of the Covenant and Interpretive Theory, SUNY, Albany, 1993, 91-114.
  6. "Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) in Context - A Study of Wisdom as Constructive Scepticism", in I.C. Jarvie and N. Laor (eds.) Critical Rationalism, The Social Sciences and the Humanities: Essays for Joseph Agassi Vol. II, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, Holland, 1995, 167-87.
  7. "'And they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment' - Faith, Knowledge and the Obligatory Nature of the Jewish Religion", (Hebrew), A. Sagi (ed.), Yeshayahu Leibowitz - His World and Philosophy, Keter, 1995, 109-20.
  8. “Leibowitz, the Shammaites and the Limits of Halkhic Criticism: An Introduction to State Law”, (Hebrew), N. Ilan (ed.) A Good Eye: Dialogue and Polemic in Jewish Culture, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1999, 603-627.
  9. "Living Dangerously", M. Walzer, M. Lorberbaum, N. Zohar, Y. Lorberbaum (eds.), The Jewish Political Tradition, Vol.1: Authority, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2000, 328-33.
  10. “Scientific Values”, (Hebrew), J. Cohen, Y. Iram, S. Scolnicov, E. Schachter (eds.), Crossroads: Values and Education in Israeli Society, Jerusalem, 2001, 69-90
  11. “Ruling Others: The Halakhic Challenge of the Renewal of Jewish Sovereignty” (Hebrew), M Ben-Sasson and H Deutsch, The Other Within and Without, Yedioth Aharonot Press, 2001, 225-59, 495-502.
  12. “From Two to One and Back: The Creation Stories and David Hartman’s Covenantal Anthropology” (Hebrew), , A. Sagi , Z Zohar (eds.) Renewing Jewish Commitment: The Work and Thought of David Hartman, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2001, 659-93.
  13. “Ein bescheidener Vorschlag: Auf dem Weg zu einer religiosen Politik der epistemischen Demut”, Ch. Schwöbel & D. C. v. Tippelskirch (eds.) Die religiosen Wurzeln der Toleranz, Verlag Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau, 2002, 131-159.
  14. “Ethical Diversity, Tolerance, and the Problem of Sovereignty: A Jewish Perspective”, T.B. Strong and R. Madsen (eds.) The Many and the One:Religious and Secular Perspectives on Ethical Pluralism in the Modern World, Princeton University Press, 2003, 195-218 (Republished as “Diversity, Tolerance, Sovereignty”, in M. Walzer (ed.), Law, Politics, and Morality in Judaism, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, 96-120.)
  15. “Rationality, Exegesis and Canon” (Hebrew), in N. Naaman-Zauderer and Y. Senderowicz (eds.), To and Fro: Philosophy's Many-Sidedness, Mifalim Universitaim, 2003, 215-44.
  16. “Introduction” to H. Fisch, Who Knows One? – An Essay in Autobiography, Bar-Ilan University Press, 2004, 7-23.
  17. “The Crisis of Modern European Science and Religion and the Jewish Debate of Religiosity” (Hebrew), M Halbertal, D. Kurzweil, and A. Sagi (eds.), On Faith: Studies in the Concept of Faith and its History in the Jewish Tradition, Keter Publishing House, 2005, 512-33, 693-5.   
  18. "Science, Creativity, and Criticism: Inquiry and Science Education – An Interview with Professor Menachem Fisch" (Hebrew), in A. Zohar (ed.) Learning by Inquiry: An Ongoing Challenge, Magnes, Jerusalem, 2006, 85-106.
  19. "Judaism and the Challenges of Science," in M. Halbertal and D. Hartman (eds.), Judaism and the Challenges of Modern Life, Continuum, New York, 2007, 9-21.
  20. “Forced Readings and Binding Texts: The Amoraic Ukimta and the Philosophy of Halakha” (Hebrew), in A Ravitzki and A Rosenak (eds.), New Studies in The Philosophy of Halakha,the Van Leer Institute and the Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 2008, 311-344.
  21. "Judaism, and the Religious Crisis of Modern Science", in J.M. van der Meer and S. Mandelbrote (eds.), Nature & Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: 1700-Present, Brill's Series in Church History Vol.37, Brill, Leiden, Vol II, 2008, 525-567.
  22. “Religious Self-critique in the Trusted Presence of Others,” in R. Kronnish (ed.), Voices for Interreligious Reconciliation in Israel, Paulist Press, 2015 (with Peter Pettit), 202-213.
  23. “Judaism and the Religious Value of Diversity and Dialogue: Drafting a Jewish Response to Nostra Aetate”, in S. Alkier, M. Schneider, Ch. Wiese (eds.), Diversität - Differenz - Dialogoizität: Religion in Pluralen Kontexten, Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, 2017, 375-392.
  24. "God’s Word and the Languages of Man: The Wisdom of Solomon and the Birth of Midrash", in G. Schreiber (ed.), Interesse am Anderen: Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zum Verhältnis von Religion und Rationalität. Für Heiko Schulz zum 60, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2019, 369-382.
  25. “The Relevance of Talmudic Judaism to Modern Philosophy”, in A. Deeg, J. J. Krause, M. Mordhorst-Mayer and B. Schrӧder (eds.) Dialogische Theologie. Beitrӓge zum Gesprӓch zwischen Juden und Christen und zur Bedeutung rabbinischer Literatur, Studien zu Kirche und Israel Neue Folge, band 14, Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2020, 265-285.
  26. “Prophecy (and its Rationality) in Talmudic Dispute”, in H. Schulz (ed.), A Mouthpiece For God: Prophecy and Reason in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, (forthcoming) 2022.
  27. “Epistemic Humility, or What Political Theory can Learn from Talmudic Judaism”, in H. Schulz, M. Fritz and R. Barth (eds), Stolz und Demut. Zur emotionalen Ambivalenz religiöser Positionierungen, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, (forthcoming) 2022
  28. "The Value of Idolatry", in A. Goshen-Gottstein (ed.), Idolatry: A Contemporary Conversation (forthcoming), Cambridge MA: Academic Studies Press, (forthcoming) 2022.
  29. “The Aqedah and the Fall: Contrasting Paradigms of Rabbinic Religiosity”, in J-P. Fortin and H. Schulz (eds.), Aqedah: The Binding of Isaac (Gen 22) as a Challenge for the Rationality of Religion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter (forthcoming) 2022.
  30. The Trading Zones of Interreligious Studies: A Prolegomena of Sorts to The Dialogcal Turn”, in M. Fisch, H. Schulz and S. Voght (eds.), Pathways into German Jewish Intellectual and Religious History: Studies in Conversation with Christian Wiese, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter (forthcoming) 2023

d.     Work Published in Proceedings of Scientific Meetings

  1. “Humble Reasoners: Science and the Jewish Covenants of Learning”, Metanexus Monthly: The Online Forum on Religion and Science, Aug. 2002 (Parts 1 and 2).
  2. Presentation (pp. 65-70) and extensive dialogue participation in A. B. Seligman (ed.), Modest Claims: Dialogues on Toleration and Tradition, University of Notre Dame Press, 2004.

e.     Items in Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

  1. “William Whewell”, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by E. Craig, Routledge, 1998, Vol. 10, 709-711.
  2. “George Peacock”, The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists, Thoemmes Press, 2004 16

f.     Reviews

  1. Review of D.K. Simonton, Scientific Genius: A Psychology of Science, Cambridge University Press, 1988, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 13, 313-4, 1991 (with N.J. Efron).
  2. Review of R. Yeo, Defining Science: William Whewell, Natural Knowledge, and Public Debate in Early Victorian England, Cambridge University Press, 1993, Isis, 706-7, 1994.


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