Worship is central to the religious life. Given that fact, contemporary analytic philosophy of religion has had surprisingly little to say about the topic. For the billions of worshipers worldwide, many philosophical questions are of interest. For example, what might make someone or something worthy of worship and another unworthy? In what ways might worship be constitutive of a good life?
Likewise, the cognitive science of religion has devoted remarkably little attention to the psychological causes of the impulse to worship, and only a little more attention to the psychological effects of its practice.
The Jewish tradition stands out as a robust bank of sources on worship. Unfortunately, few scholars of Jewish studies and Jewish philosophy have engaged with analytic philosophy or the cognitive science of religion.
We wish to address these three lacunae in one project: to produce an analytic philosophy of worship, lay the groundwork for future work in the psychology of worship, and propel Jewish analytic philosophy forward. To these ends, we envision a two-year project on the philosophy of worship as seen through the lens of Jewish texts and practices. The main events will be two intensive summer workshops. The workshops will incubate, under the supervision and tutelage of lecturers drawn from the fields of philosophy and the empirical sciences, the work of selected scholars. The intensive workshops are intended to cross-pollinate interest among all participants.
We will publish an edited collection of essays within two years of the project’s close, and twenty other scholarly articles are expected to emerge from the project. To spread our scholarship to the world of worshippers, we will also produce videos and award essays printed in publications with wide readership.