Agassi was born and grew up ultra-Orthodox and left the religion in adolescence. Considered the senior philosopher in Israel and was a student of Karl Popper. He asked to change the nationality on the identity card from Jewish to Israeli and was refused
The Israeli philosopher Professor Yosef Agassi passed away close to his 95th birthday.
Agassi studied at the "Hader", and later at the "Tahkamoni" school, at the Merkaz Rabbi yeshiva and at the Aloma Rabbinical Seminary. In adolescence he left religion. He served in the paratroopers and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he completed a master's degree in physics. In the 50s Agassi studied for a doctorate at the London School of Economics under the guidance of the philosopher Karl Popper. Since then he has researched and worked at the Hebrew University.
In 2008 Agassi and his wife joined a group of Israeli citizens who filed a petition with the court demanding to change the nationality entry on the identity card from "Jewish" to "Israeli". The District Court in Jerusalem rejected the petition, claiming that the issue "is not a matter of jurisdiction". The appeal before the Supreme Court was also rejected.
His wife Judith Buber Agassi, who died in 2018, was the granddaughter of Martin Buber.
Nir Lahav eulogizes Prof. Agassi:
Now I heard about the death of the philosopher Yosef Agassi. He wrote one of the books that influenced me deeply and directed my life. The name of the book does not sound like such a special book, an introduction to modern philosophy of the Broadcasting University Press, and yet, when I read the book many years ago, the book made a revolution in my mind. Following the book, I discovered the close connection between science and society and the social responsibility imposed on scientists. Until then it was clear to me that reality surpasses all imagination and therefore I want to become a physicist in order to reveal the secrets of reality. In addition, it was also clear to me that I like to teach and show others how amazing our reality is. This means that until then I saw a scientist as someone whose job it is to investigate and educate about the importance of science. Agassi's book shows that there is a much stronger connection than I thought between science and society.
Science did not develop in a vacuum and it was not always acceptable to explore reality freely and without social restrictions. It seems that every time the human race remembers the tremendous power it has within it amazing things happen. This happened, for example, in ancient Greece, happened again in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and even in the 60s of the 20th century. Thanks to the Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, we live today in a free and (relatively) open world where everything is allowed to be explored. In the book Agassi shows that the role of the scientist is the role of the revolutionary rebel. The one that marches us forward in understanding reality while breaking what we thought before. It's not just that one of the most important values in science is the value of doubt. The book taught me that at the base of science are important values such as the value of truth, the imposition of doubt, and the freedom to explore and want to know. It is no coincidence that these are also the values at the base of the entire modern culture.
The modern values are the result of a thought, social and scientific revolution
Agassi shows how all the modern values we grew up with are the result of a thought, social and scientific revolution. The book showed me that scientists should not stay in the ivory tower. They should take responsibility for the advancement of society, understand the connections between science and society and philosophy and try to influence and promote the culture around them.
I just published a series of articles under the title A Brief History of the West - The Values of the Modern World (see link to the two parts at the bottom of this article), about these connections and the values of the West and the modern era. On the relationship between the scientific revolution, the Renaissance, democracy and liberalism and progress. And how because there is not enough education for the values that have arisen, a situation has arisen in which most scientists are not even aware of the strong connection that exists between them and society. And not only scientists, in general, most of us simply do not know the value depth of the modern era. In such a situation, it is clear why the Western world is in a deep crisis and how the illusory situation was created in which populists can so easily distort the facts in order to carry out a governmental coup that will weaken democracy and harm the rights of all of us. The post is actually based on Yosef Agassi's book and now at a terrible time, it turns out that he has passed away.
rip. At least his ideas will stay with us.
I had the privilege of meeting him several times and even hosting him at a Tikkun Shavuot event marked by secular spirituality that I produced in 2013 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
More of the topic in Hayadan: