Israel Studies Seminar: TT21 wk 7: Religion, Change and Continuity in History - The Case Study of Modern Jewish History

Convener: Yaacov Yadgar

Speaker: Ronny Miron (Bar Ilan University) 

It is argued that secularization creates a fundamental change, to the point of break, in the history of culture, or alternatively, starts a new history. This statement assumes a relation between religion and historical reality. Thus, in a reality in which religion possesses weight and significance for people, the historical process is characterized by continuity, but this is broken in a reality of secularization. The paper explores two models. The break model is based on a diachronic observation, which examines present reality in light of past events. Accordingly, the reality of secularization is perceived as expressing a break and detachment from the collective memory, whose roots are planted in religion and tradition. The Continuity model is based on a synchronous observation focused on the present-day reality of life. It holds that despite the great changes in the status of religion, in a reality of secularization there occur processes of translation, adoption, and adaptation of contents and values from the tradition to the present-day reality. Thus, historical continuity is enabled. Finally, a third way is indicated out of the analysis of the hermeneutical possibilities and the deficiencies of both models.

Ronny Miron is a Professor of Philosophy at Bar Ilan University, Israel. Her research is focused on post-Kantian Idealism, Existentialism, Phenomenology, and Hermeneutics, as well as current Jewish thought. She employs an interdisciplinary perspective combining the aforementioned traditions. She is the author of:  Karl Jaspers: From Selfhood to Being (2012), The Desire for Metaphysics: Selected Papers on Karl Jaspers (2014), The Angel of Jewish History: The Image of the Jewish Past in the Twentieth Century (2014). Husserl and Other Phenomenologists (2018, edited book) and Hedwig Conrad-Martius, The Phenomenological Gateway to Reality (Springer, 2021).