Sacrifice, as an idea and a praxis, has been part of human life since the beginning of history. Although it has undergone many incarnations and changed almost beyond recognition, a stubborn core of this ancient idea continues to be embodied in new genres and to ignite the imagination even in the modern era. The "On Sacrifice" research workshop that took place in January 2020 proposed making the attitude toward the transcendent a keystone for thinking about this core. The history of the transmutations of the concept and praxis of sacrifice actually reflects a history of transformations in the concept of sacredness and in the modes of approaching the sacred. An examination of these emphasizes the challenge of accounting for the relevance of the concept of sacrifice in a secularized world. The questions discussed in the workshop included the following: What ethical drama is reflected in the transition from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice in the biblical tradition? How does the perception of sacrifice change in Greek thought from a means of making a covenant with the god(s) to preparation for a mystical experience? And what is the connection between human sacrifice and the sacrifice of the philosopher, who becomes elevated and unites with God by means of his intellect?
To view the lecture of Prof. Paul Kahn that was delivered as part of the workshop