Monday, November 22, 2010

Conferencia sobre la Filosofía de la Biblia hebrea, el Talmud y el Midrash

Hoy me limito a retransmitir un anuncio de Yoram Hazony, sin su conocimiento. Si te dedicas a la filosofía te puede interesar. Yo no me dedico a ella y me ha parecido interesantísimo. sus palabras:

Jerusalem Letters,
No. 8    |    November 22, 2010
Philosophy of the Bible? Maybe Not Quite Yet
In a previous letter, I described some of the efforts I've been involved with over the last ten years to establish the academic legitimacy of the idea that the Hebrew Bible and classical rabbinic sources actually had an influence on the history of Western political thought. (“The Biblical Century,” May 10, 2010). Most people, I suspect, will find the proposition that the Bible had an influence on Western thought pretty uncontroversial. Most academics would probably agree as well. But this isn’t reflected in either the research that universities conduct or in the courses that are taught to students: The fact is that in most universities in America, Europe and Israel, the norm is still to conduct research and teach disciplines such as philosophy, political theory, and intellectual history as though the Hebrew Bible did not make a significant contribution to the ideas of the Western tradition.

There are a number of contributing factors here. But a central one is the fact that the Hebrew Bible is usually not studied for its ideas in the academic setting. If the Hebrew Scriptures have anything to say about metaphysics or theory of knowledge, ethics or political philosophy—until recently at least, the Bible programs didn’t really see it as their job to investigate these questions. Neither did the philosophy programs, since the Bible isn't supposed to be philosophy. (According to the old categories, the Bible isn’t reason, it’s revelation.) So in the end, it turned out that no one in the universities thought that their discipline was responsible for researching and teaching the Bible’s ideas.

So I was very pleased a couple of weeks ago when the John Templeton Foundation announced a $1.1 million grant to the Shalem Center to conduct a three-year international research program investigating the philosophical content of the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, and Midrash. As far as I know, this grant, which will support a series of annual conferences, workshops for students, and research fellowships, constitutes the first time a major foundation has sought to support research into the philosophical content of the classical Jewish sources. The grant to Shalem is also part of a larger project in “philosophical theology” in which two Christian institutions—the University of Notre Dame and the University of Innsbruck, Austria—will be conducting parallel investigations into the foundations of Christian philosophy. (I've attached the Jerusalem Post’s coverage of the story here.)

For those of us involved with this project, it's really pretty exciting. Don’t laugh (well, okay, go ahead), but it feels a little bit like trying to land a man on the moon. Of course the project could just fail, or end up being an embarrassment. There’s always that risk. But there’s also this sense that it could be the beginning of something spectacular.

Well, so here’s the first bit of embarrassment. I received word yesterday that one of the principal mailing lists announcing conferences and fellowship opportunities to philosophy professors around the world has declined to post the announcement for the first conference, entitled “Philosophical Investigation of the Hebrew Bible, Talmud and Midrash”.

The manager of the list wrote that “We have a list policy against theological/scriptural postings.”

The explanation? “They’re just broader than the list supports.”

It’s actually pretty funny that studying the philosophy of the Hebrew Bible is a project too broad for this particular listserv, considering that in recent months they’ve sent out calls for papers trying to enlist philosophy professors to write on topics such as “Philosophy and Baseball” and “Philosophy and Spiderman”. Here's an announcement that I received from this same listserv just three days ago:
Davil324 <> Nov 19 06:59AM -0800 ^

Porn - Philosophy for Everyone:
How to Think With Kink

Dave Monroe, Editor & Fritz Allhoff, Series Editor

From Wiley-Blackwell

Love it or loathe it, pornography is as old as human more...

I don’t want to be interpreted as objecting to this kind of thing. Different universities will support different kinds of research. That’s just part of the open marketplace of ideas, right?

But on the other hand, it’s striking that for certain segments of academia, the philosophy of pornography isn’t too “broad” to be supported. Whereas the philosophy of the Bible—well nowthat’s risqué!

So if you know any philosophers (or philosophically inclined scholars in other disciplines) who might be interested in participating in a slightly risqué conference on the philosophy of the Hebrew Bible and Talmud, please forward them this link to our Philosophy of the Hebrew Bible Conference Announcement (see the announcment below).

Given the prudishness currently prevailing in some parts of the philosophical community, maybe not everyone has had a chance to have a peek at it just yet.

Please send your responses to I'll be posting selected responses on my website, about which more soon.

Contacting me:

To subscribe to Jerusalem Letters click here 

Announcement of a conference on the topic:
Philosophical Investigation of the
Hebrew Scriptures, Talmud and Midrash

The Hebrew Bible occupies an anomalous position on the contemporary academic landscape. The field of biblical studies produces a steady stream of works on the compositional history, philology, and literary character of the biblical texts. But the ideas that find expression in the Hebrew Scriptures—the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy of the biblical authors—have seldom been explored by the field of biblical studies in a systematic fashion. At the same time, philosophers, political theorists, and historians of ideas, who see the study of ideas as the principal interest of their work, tend to assume that the biblical texts fall outside the scope of their disciplines. The result is that despite general agreement that the Bible has had an unparalleled significance in the history of the West, its ideas have remained, until recently, largely beyond the reach of sustained academic investigation.

Much the same can be said about the other classical Jewish sources as well: The Talmud and Midrash seem frequently to explore subjects of intrinsic philosophical interest. Yet these texts remain all but unknown to philosophers, political theorists, and historians of ideas.

The ongoing neglect of the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, and Midrash by philosophers is especially striking given the rapidly growing interest in theological questions in philosophy departments throughout the English-speaking world. Over the last generation, Christian philosophers have labored successfully to introduce “philosophical theology” (or, more recently, “analytic theology”) into philosophy departments at leading universities. In keeping with longstanding Christian philosophical tradition, this discipline has focused on a priori argumentation concerning the concept of God as “perfect being,” and has usually been conducted with little reference to the Bible. As a consequence, philosophical theology has until now continued the larger pattern of academic neglect of the ideas of the Hebrew Scriptures and other Jewish sources. This has also meant that philosophical theology has been of only very limited relevance to Jews, whose tradition of philosophical and theological speculation is largely text-based.

This is unfortunate because philosophy as a discipline could contribute much to the elucidation of the Hebrew Scriptures and classical rabbinic texts. The law-oriented emphasis of much traditional rabbinic exegesis has meant that these texts have not usually been investigated using philosophical tools and with an eye for philosophical questions. So we can ask what do philosophical questions and the answers that have been given until now teach us about the Bible and Talmud? What, for example, does the nature of the mind or language, reality or morals, as understood by philosophers, have to offer us in enhancing or extending the insights from these traditional sources?

In Fall 2010, the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, with the generous support of the John Templeton Foundation, has launched an initiative aimed at developing a Jewish “philosophical theology” that will seek to advance the study of the ideas of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Talmud and Midrash in the academic setting. This initiative is part of a broader “Analytic Theology” project of the Templeton Foundation, which will also support Christian centers for philosophical theology at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Innsbruck, Austria. The Jewish component of the project envisions the development of a uniquely Jewish discipline that will use philosophical tools and methods for examining classical Jewish sources. The project is open to Jewish and non-Jewish scholars interested in the philosophical elucidation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Talmud and Midrash.

In the context of this project, the department of Philosophy, Political Theory and Religion (PPR) at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem invites submissions for an interdisciplinary conference on “Philosophical Investigation of the Hebrew Scriptures, Talmud and Midrash,” to be held in Jerusalem on June 26-30, 2011.

Invited speakers: Lenn Goodman, Jacob Howland, Joseph Isaac Lifshitz, Alan Mittleman.

This will be the first in a series of three annual conferences. For the 2011 conference, the organizing committee will give priority to papers exploring metaphysics and God’s nature. This topic is intended to address questions of what human beings can know about the fundamental nature of reality. Subjects for discussion will include the nature of reality and being, and the relationship of this reality with truth and with goodness. Particular attention will be paid to the question of what can be known about God, including questions of whether God can in fact be considered to be in some sense a being, his attributes, and his relationship to the world.

However, superior papers will be considered on all subjects relating to the philosophical investigation of the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, and Midrash.

Abstracts of no more than 1,000 words should be submitted together with a current cv by January 15, 2011.

An overview of the “Jewish Philosophical Theology” project at the Shalem Center is available here.

A Select Bibliography of relevant scholarship is available here.

A limited travel fund will be available to assist scholars and students wishing to attend the conference. Conference papers will be considered for publication in a forthcoming anthology of papers.

Please direct correspondence to Kate Deutsch,