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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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Notes 265


Notes Introduction 1. See, especially, S. Drob, Kabbalistic Metaphors: Jewish Mystical Themes in Ancient and Modern Thought. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 2000, Chs. 6, 7, and 8. 2. L. Wittgenstein, Culture and Value. Ed. G. H. von Wright and G.E.M. Anscombe, trans. Peter Winch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980, p. 13e. 3. See R Chatterjee, Wittgenstein and Judaism: A Triumph of Concealment. New York: Peter Lang, 2005, Chatterjee goes so far as to argue that Wittgenstein was self-consciously Jewish in thought and belief but managed to conceal this fact from both those around him and his readers. While I do not think that Chatterjee has marshaled sufficient evidence to prove this point, the comparison between Wittgenstein’s practice and Talmudic modes of argument is quite apt, and Wittgenstein’s preoccupation with language and interpretation might be said to be quintessentially Jewish. 4. Drob, Kabbalistic Metaphors, Ch, 7, pp. 241-288. 5. J. Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, trans. F. Lawrence. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987: S Handelman, The Slayers of Moses: The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982. 6. Thomas J.J. Altizer. Email to the author, January, 2000. 7. H. Miller, Email to the author, June 12, 2007. Miller continued, “I think it was 16th, but maybe some other century, and I'm not sure Luria was mentioned, whom I know about by way of Harold Bloom. The word ‘heretical’ is important here, and it was not a ‘last’ meeting, but one...

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