The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas is a research and graduate teaching institute within the framework of the School of History of Tel Aviv University. The Institute was established in 1983 by the late Professor Yehuda Elkana and the late Professor Amos Funkenstein. In 1989 the Institute was endowed by Barbara and Bertram J. Cohn. The proceeds of the initial endowment, additional contributions from the Cohn family and donations for scholarships and for specific projects from other supporters, have enabled the Institute to operate semi-independently of university budgets and to develop extra-curricular activities and projects that would have been financially inconceivable otherwise. The Institute also has three affiliated chairs: The Simon P. Silverman Chair for Visiting Professors in the History and Philosophy of Science; The Bertram J. and Barbara Cohn Chair for the History and Philosophy of Science; The Joseph and Ceil Mazer Chair for the History and Philosophy of Science.
Currently the Director of the Institute is Prof. Yossef Schwartz.
The Cohn Institute has a staff of 13 permanent and 4-5 additional, affiliated and junior scholars. Thus, the Institute is the largest and most dynamic center for the History of Science and the Social Studies of Knowledge in the country and one of the five to six most active in the world.
The Institute's curriculum reflects the Institute's intellectual credo as well as the staff's research interests. These include: History of Science and Intellectual History of the Western World; Philosophy of Science, with emphasis on the periods following the Scientific Revolution; The Anthropology of Knowledge; History and Philosophy of Biology; History of Technology; History and Philosophy of Ancient and of Modern Mathematics; Cultural Studies, with emphasis on Critical Aspects of Modern Western Culture; Intellectual History of the Islamicate World, and in the Israeli context, a critical study of Science, Society and Religion.
As a highly-regarded, graduate-level teaching department, the Institute attracts ever-increasing numbers of students coming from the most diverse academic backgrounds and driven by a strong, plain desire to broaden intellectual horizons in the many directions offered by the Institute. Between 1983 and 2013, our students have completed more than 85 PhD Dissertations and more than 145 MA theses. The student body counts approximately 130 M.A. students and 50 Ph.D. candidates. Broadly speaking, the academic backgroung of the students can be divided between Humanities, Exact and Life Sciences, Arts, social Science and Law, while the majority belong to the Humanities, Exact and Life Sciences (about 70%).
The Institute is affiliated with the School of History, the School of Philosophy and the School of Cultural Studies, at Tel-Aviuv University. The Institute works in close cooperation with other departments at the university, such as the School of Medicine and the School of Mathematics, and the departments of History and Philosophy where the Institute's teachers give seminars and lectures. The Institute maintains close working relations with the Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem, as well as with related departments and programs at other Israeli universities: the Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, the History and Philosophy of Science Program at Bar-Ilan University, and the related departments at Haifa University and Ben-Gurion University. The Institute conducts ongoing cooperation and interchange programs with the leading institutions of its kind in the world, such as the Boston Center for Philosophy and History of Science and the Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin.