The question of how to live together with those deeply different from ourselves is perhaps the most acute political challenge facing Israel and other contemporary democracies in our times. To social scientists, however, living together presents not only a wrenching political question, but also an urgent and weighty research question, which requires refreshing our theoretical toolkit.
The Challenge of Living Together area at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute seeks to take on this mission, expanding beyond the liberal imagination. Our work scrutinizes the liberal grammar of critical discourse, widespread in academia in Israel and throughout the West, with the understanding that this grammar itself limits our ability to provide an innovative social interpretation to the question of living together. Moreover, the liberal grammar also makes it hard for scholars to fully understand the world of the “disadvantaged” groups who, presumably, should benefit from it but who now more than ever reject the liberal moral and cognitive vision for social order to which the critical discourse has clung. Given this state of affairs, scholars have become part of an elite group, pushed to the margins of the public discourse – a situation that limits their ability to offer a suitable interpretive-political response to the world they study. The Challenge of Living Together area seeks to contend with this dual rift—the scholarly and the political—by reframing the affinity of deep ideas to social reality.
The projects in the the Challenge of Living Together area: