Relationship of Kabbalah with western philosophy (similarities and major differences)


From what I have learned about Kabbalah it seems that wisdom is the main ingredient of Kabbalah studies, but, it is also the main ingredient (or at least, it should be) of western philosophy also.

Which are the main points of divergence of Kabbalah and western philosophy?

Which are the similarities (other than the efforts to attain wisdom)?


Posted 2020-03-09T19:55:57.310


Kabbalah is more a peculiar kind of theology (Jewish mysticism) than philosophy, see What is the difference between Philosophy and Theology? for a general distinction. Beyond that, the two are too far apart, and "philosophy" is too varied, for a meaningful point by point comparison. As for "wisdom", the word is too vague for its appearance in different contexts to signal much of a substantive similarity.

– Conifold – 2020-03-09T22:47:54.913

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– J D – 2020-03-10T02:57:29.343

Kabbalah is a form of mysticism and like organized religion, relies on divination and revelation. It would likely be a better comparison to consider it akin to gnosticism which both emphasize the individuals journey over obedience to doctrine and institution. Philosophy, even among the pres – J D – 2020-03-10T03:00:11.740

Apparently Kabbalah does contain some 'wisdom' in addition to theology and mysticism, and that wisdom content could be reasonably compared with other traditions. – Chris Degnen – 2020-03-10T09:24:13.630

Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism or theosophy. As such it is of little interest to Western philosophers, who prefer to have nothing to do with such things. At its heart it is the same old perennial teaching of the unity of Man and God, or the parts and the whole, said to be verifiable in practice. The rejection of this idea defines Russell's Western tradition so the connection between the two is tenuous. 'Western' thought stereotypically means dualism, while Kabbalism requires non-dualism. Thus they are profoundly different practices and ways of thinking. , . . – None – 2020-03-10T11:20:36.217

1@PeterJ: That's generalizing up to becoming false. One of the contact points between German philosophy of the Enlightenment and modern (Lurian) Kabbalah is Moses Mendelssohn. There even is a philosopher at my former institute who came to writing a book about Tsimtsum via studying Spinoza, Jacobi, and Mendelssohn. – Philip Klöcking – 2020-03-10T12:22:49.203

@PhilipKlöcking - I think the generalisation is justified but would concede there is a grey area. Nothing grey about Russell's view, however, and it's still ubiquitous. Dualism (of the metaphysical kind) is the defining characteristic for the 'Western' tradition as he describes it, and it rules the roost in the profession. Even in consciousness studies this is the case. – None – 2020-03-11T11:38:00.473

No answers