‘A Striver for Truth Must Acknowledge Its Opposite’: Talking With Dr. Yemima Ben-Menahem

Why do science's failures bring us closer to truth? What did Tolstoy teach us about inevitability and contingency? How do we reconcile scientific research and religious faith? A conversation with Yemima Ben-Menahem, the Israel Prize winner whose career has bridged the fields of philosophy and science

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Avi Garfinkel
Avi Garfinkel

Twenty or more years after the fact, you don’t remember many of the courses you took at university. Neither the materials you studied nor even the teachers. Most of it becomes a blurry mix that at best may leave a few traces on you that you might never again become consciously aware of. For me, though, “The Philosophy of Science,” which was taught by Dr. Yemima Ben-Menahem, was different. I am neither a philosopher nor a scientist but the things I learned in the course given by Ben-Menahem, today professor emerita, do not only remain etched in my memory but also changed the way I look at the world. The concepts I learned – including the “problem of induction,” “contingency,” the “principle of falsifiability,” “paradigm” and “ad hoc hypothesis” – astounded me then and still astound me today. And they are also useful to me in my everyday life, at least insofar as conversations about politics and morality, or arguments on Facebook, count as everyday life.

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