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Kabbalah and Postmodernism

A Dialogue


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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1. Postmodernism and Jewish Mysticism 19


Chapter One Postmodernism and Jewish Mysticism The Tenor of Post-modernist Thought: Multiple Narratives and the Loss of Center here is something rather self-defeating in any effort to define the nature of postmodernism, a “non-movement” that rests, in part, on the impossibility of providing definitions. However, I believe we can say this much: those who have been regarded as exponents of postmodernism, share a radical skepticism towards the possibility of providing an ultimate, absolute, or singular account of human knowledge, practice and belief, and they hold that the knowledge, beliefs, and practices (religious, scientific or otherwise) which previous generations had assumed to be foundational and absolute are best understood as social and linguistic constructions that have no particular claim to truth, except within the cultural and linguistic framework within which they arise. What one takes to be “truth” is simply one possible narrative amongst countless others, and as Marc Taylor has argued, it is little more than an illusion to hold that such things as cosmic and world history, or even individual human lives, form a single story or even a coherent one. The world and our lives, according to Taylor, are “inscribed in multiple and often contradictory texts,” and, depending upon the context and our perspective, what once seemed inherently true and meaningful can suddenly appear arbitrary and senseless. In this regard, Taylor quotes Yeats well-known phrase: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” T Kabbalah and Postmodernism 20 Amongst the “postmodern” philosophers...

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