6. The Doctrine of Coincidentia Oppositorum in Jewish Mysticism 129
Chapter Six The Doctrine of Coincidentia Oppositorum in Jewish Mysticism he doctrine of coincidentia oppositorum, the interpenetration, interdependence and unification of opposites has long been one of the defining characteristics of mystical (as opposed to philosophical) thought. Whereas mystics have often held that their experience can only be described in terms that violate the “principle of non-contradiction,” western philosophers have generally maintained that this fundamental logical principle is inviolable. 1 Nevertheless, certain philosophers, including Nicholas of Cusa, 2 Meister Eckhardt 3 and G.W.F. Hegel 4 have held that presumed polarities in thought do not exclude one another but are actually necessary conditions for the assertion of their opposites. In the 20 th century the physicist Neils Bohr commented that superficial truths are those whose opposites are false, but that “deep truths” are such that their opposites or apparent contradictories are true as well. 5 The psychologist Carl Jung concluded that the “Self” is a coincidentia oppositorum, and that each individual must strive to integrate opposing tendencies (anima and animus, persona and shadow) within his or her own psyche. 6 More recently, postmodern thinkers such as Derrida have made negative use of the coincidentia oppositorum idea as a means of overcoming the privileging of particular poles of the classic binary oppositions in western thought, and thereby deconstructing the foundational ideas of western metaphysics. 7 In this chapter I explore the use of coincidentia oppositorum in Jewish mysticism, and its singular significance for the theology of one prominent T Kabbalah and Postmodernism...
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