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Kabbalah and Postmodernism

A Dialogue

Series:

Sandford L. Drob

Kabbalah and Postmodernism: A Dialogue challenges certain long-held philosophical and theological beliefs, including the assumptions that the insights of mystical experience are unavailable to human reason and inexpressible in linguistic terms, that the God of traditional theology either does or does not exist, that «systematic theology» must provide a univocal account of God, man, and the world, that «truth» is «absolute» and not continually subject to radical revision, and that the truth of propositions in philosophy and theology excludes the truth of their opposites and contradictions. Readers of Kabbalah and Postmodernism will be exposed to a comprehensive mode of theological thought that incorporates the very doubts that would otherwise lead one to challenge the possibility of theology and religion, and which both preserves the riches of the Jewish tradition and extends beyond Judaism to a non-dogmatic universal philosophy and ethic.

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Table of Contents

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Preface .........................................................................................................xiii Introduction ................................................................................................... 1 A Mysticism of Ideas............................................................................................... 1 Bilinear Thinking .................................................................................................... 5 Rational Mysticism.................................................................................................. 8 Kabbalistic Forms of Consciousness ..................................................................... 10 The Philosophical Status of the Kabbalists’ Basic Metaphor ................................ 10 Kabbalah, Deconstruction, Hegelianism ............................................................... 13 Towards a Contemporary Kabbalistic Theology ................................................... 16 1. Postmodernism and Jewish Mysticism.................................................. 19 The Tenor of Post-modernist Thought: Multiple Narratives and the Loss of Center .......................................................................................................... 19 The Lurianic Kabbalah .......................................................................................... 25 The Shattering of the Foundations......................................................................... 28 Overcoming Binary Oppositions ........................................................................... 30 The Role of Negation ............................................................................................ 31 The Infinite Play of Significance........................................................................... 32 Domination and the Dissolution of God and Self.................................................. 33 Nihilism and Negation........................................................................................... 35 Ethnocentrism and Multi-Culturalism ................................................................... 36 The Need for Universalism and Difference........................................................... 37 Lurianic Kabbalah and the Syntax of Classical Narrative ..................................... 38 Kabbalah as a Hermeneutic Methodology............................................................. 40 Tropological vs. Metaphysical Mysticism............................................................. 42 Exile as a Condition of Human Existence ............................................................. 43 Kabbalah and Postmodernism viii The Dissolution of the Transcendental Signified and the Autonomous Subject......................................................................................................... 45 2. Derrida and Jewish Mysticism............................................................... 48 Derrida, Judaism and the Kabbalah....................................................................... 48 Wolfson and Idel on Derrida and the Kabbalah .................................................... 50 The Last of the Jews .............................................................................................. 55 Jabes’ The Book of Questions ............................................................................... 56 Sollers and Scholem .............................................................................................. 60 A Philosophical Accord......................................................................................... 62 3. Tzimtzum and Différance......................................................................... 65 The Doctrine of Tzimtzum ..................................................................................... 65 “Différance” .......................................................................................................... 67 Différance, “Presence” and “Absence” ................................................................. 69 The “Trace” ........................................................................................................... 69 Différance is “Not”................................................................................................ 70 Does Différance Create?........................................................................................ 71 Différance and Negative Theology........................................................................ 71 Derrida and Mysticism .......................................................................................... 73 The Thing is Hopelessly Divided Against Itself.................................................... 74 The Demise of Différance ..................................................................................... 75 Différance,...

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