David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Religious Ethics 37 (3):385-418 (2009)
In this paper, I seek to present the range of issues involved in the efforts of sixteenth-century kabbalists to understand the nature of selfhood, and the paths prescribed for the formation of an ideal life. I reflect on the mystical writings of Moshe Cordovero, Eliyahu de Vidas, and ayyim Vital—probing their conceptions of core identity, the polarity between body and soul, and the ethical guidance for a life well lived. In so doing, I consider the following additional themes, and their relation to the matrix of self-formation and religious identity: reincarnation and rebirth; the virtue of humility and self-effacement; the cultivation of wisdom; ideals of piety and prophetic experience; asceticism; and the spiritual transcendence of desire. In presenting this wide range of constituent themes, I argue that sixteenth-century kabbalists understood the soul to be the ultimate marker of personal identity (nuanced and complicated by the doctrine of reincarnation), and that they formulated a vision of an ideal ethics in which the human being functions as an earthly vessel for the divine presence. What is more, the preparation of that vessel required a degree of humility so extreme that the attainment of ideal personhood ultimately involved the effacement of that very identity
|Keywords||mysticism self soul reincarnation ethics identity|
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Charles Taylor (1989). Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Harvard University Press.
Pierre Hadot (1995). Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises From Socrates to Foucault. Blackwell.
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Martha Nussbaum (1994). The Therapy of Desire. Princeton University Press.
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