In his early teaching, from the 1920s through the 1950s, Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903-1994) stands out as one of the most fascinating religious Zionist thinkers. He strives to establish a Jewish democratic state whose democratic aspects will be channeled toward the establishment of an exemplary society, one that can express its religious roots within a modern democratic context. Leibowitz thus attaches enormous importance to democracy in terms of both its political components and its modern Orthodox aspirations. In this respect, he is (...) the most radical spokesman of the Neo-Orthodox notion of Torah with Derekh Eretz , as translated into religious-Zionist terms. (shrink)
This essay develops Slavoj Žižek’s critique of Quentin Meillassoux’s speculative materialism. The first part consists of a discussion of Meillassoux’s ‘principle of factiality’ (which states that only contingency is necessary) and Ray Brassier’s problematization of this principle’s self-referentiality. The second part takes up Žižek’s critique of Meillassoux, which solves the problem of self-reference by dialecticizing the principle of factiality, ending up with the thesis of the contingency of necessity. The third part is an elaboration of Žižek’s critique in which the (...) main lacuna in Meillassoux’s philosophy, i.e. the lack of any account of the genesis of subjectivity, is seen to lead to a disavowal of ‘constitutive mythology’ as theorized by Markus Gabriel. It is argued that Meillassoux’s notion of ‘hyper-Chaos’ is in fact the core of his mythology, which becomes especially clear when contrasted with an alternative mythology, namely Henri Bergson’s vision of ‘creative evolution’. Finally, it is shown how Žižek’s critique of Meillassoux gravitates toward this mythology of creative evolution as his Lacanian version of dialectical materialism is reformulated in the light of the speculative realist problematic. (shrink)
This book gives a comprehensive overview of central themes of finite model theory â expressive power, descriptive complexity, and zero-one laws â together with selected applications relating to database theory and artificial intelligence, especially constraint databases and constraint satisfaction problems. The final chapter provides a concise modern introduction to modal logic, emphasizing the continuity in spirit and technique with finite model theory. This underlying spirit involves the use of various fragments of and hierarchies within first-order, second-order, fixed-point, and infinitary logics (...) to gain insight into phenomena in complexity theory and combinatorics. The book emphasizes the use of combinatorial games, such as extensions and refinements of the Ehrenfeucht-Fraissé pebble game, as a powerful way to analyze the expressive power of such logics, and illustrates how deep notions from model theory and combinatorics, such as o-minimality and treewidth, arise naturally in the application of finite model theory to database theory and AI. Students of logic and computer science will find here the tools necessary to embark on research into finite model theory, and all readers will experience the excitement of a vibrant area of the application of logic to computer science. (shrink)
The publication of Moshe Idel’s book, Kabbalah: New Perspectives marks a turning point in the field of Jewish mysticism. In this volume, Moshe Idel offered phenomenology as an alternative key to appreciating the history and ideas of Jewish mystical traditions. This study returns to this book in order to assess and critique the meaning and function of phenomenology in his early scholarship, as a prelude to the developing and possibly changing methodologies that he has employed in numerous studies (...) published since the appearance of his now classic study. The study considers the connection between phenomenology and experience and its role within the multiple perspectives suggested in the volume. Moshe Idel’s methodology is thus appreciated within the larger context of his work, positioned within the history of scholarship in the field and serves as a measure of the turn to new perspectives. (shrink)
Ceea ce ne uneşte: istorii, biografii, idei. Sorin Antohi în dialog cu Moshe Idel (Those things that bind us: histories, biographies, ideas. Sorin Antohi in dialogue with Moshe Idel) Ed. Polirom, Iaşi, 2006.
The article discusses the contribution of Moshe Idel’s vast research to the field of religious studies. The terms which best capture his overall approach are “plurality” and “complexity”. As a result, Idel rejects essentialist definitions of “Judaism”, or any other religious tradition. The ensuing question is: to what extent does his approach allow for the characterization of Judaism as a singular phenomenon which can be differentiated from other religions? The answer seems to lie in Idel’s definition of the “connectivity” (...) between the human and the divine as a relationship which “underlies the basic notion of religion as such”. Opposing Rudolph Otto’s description of the holy as remote, Idel explains holiness in terms of closeness and connection. This reading of religion is supported by that of sociologist Daniéle Hervieu-Léger, who describes religious practice as constructing a “chain of memory” - a term which echoes with Idel’s analysis of Jewish ritual as the construction of “enchanted chains” of connectivity. Hervieu-Léger’s study points towards the possibility of regarding Judaism, as a family-centered tradition, as paradigmatic for traditional religion. Indeed, in recent studies, Idel describes the construction of memory through ritual practice as the most important means of shaping identity for all forms of traditional Judaism. The model of “chains of memory” can be located in classical Jewish texts, such as a much-quoted passage by Nahmanidies - the extremely important thirteenth-century Kabbalist and legal authority. This text describes Jewish rituals as maintaining continuity across generations. We see then that the notion of connectivity moves us closer to the concerns found in central Jewish texts, rather than imposing modern agenda on them. It can also be used to determine to what extent a given idea or practice is connected to the chain of connectivity constructed by a given tradition or is rather tangential to it. In this sense, it is a corrective to the danger of “dispersion” that is implicit in Idel’s focus on plurality and complexity. (shrink)
This text deals with Moshe Idel’s perspective on the connections between Maimonide’s philosophy and Abulafia’s esoteric thought. Idel analyses their thinking under the aspect of their appearance, inter-relation, and inner dynamics. Idel’s analysis reveals that Maimonide’s attempt to issue an esoteric book, one that would give back to Judaism a lost esoteric science, gave a particular impulse to the development of Jewish mysticism, and especially to the ecstatic Kabbalah. Maimonide attempted to transform philosophy into a mystic instrument of understanding (...) the secrets of the Torah. This fact determined Abulafia to re-signify the Maimonidean thought and to integrate it into a limit experience of “unio mystica”. In this context, several aspects concerning the arcanization and the super-arcanization of philosophical and mystical texts are discussed. (shrink)
Due to the worldwide shortage of organs for transplantation, there has been an increased use of organs obtained after circulatory death alone. A protocol for this procedure has recently been approved by a major transplant consortium. This development raises serious moral and ethical concerns. Two renowned theologians of the previous generation, Paul Ramsey and Moshe Feinstein, wrote extensively on the ethical issues relating to transplantation, and their work has much relevance to current moral dilemmas. Their writings relating to definition (...) of death, organ transplantation and the care of the terminally ill are briefly presented, and their potential application to the moral problem of organ donation after circulatory death is discussed. (shrink)
This brief article comments on Moshe Lewin’s last book . The book can be considered as the best documented study of Soviet Union. Lewin’s characterisation of the soviet system as bureaucratic absolutism is, however, disappointing, and contrasts with the identification of the new “managerial” ruling class, its grip on resourses and state power.
This article opens with a brief phenomenological comparison between Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism and Moshe Idel’s Kabbalah: New Perspectives. Scholem’s book is diachronic or historical in approach while Idel’s is primarily synchronistic, focusing on devekut (devotion) in Jewish Mysticism, the concept of Unio Mystica, a variety of mystical techniques, Kabbalistic theosophy, theurgy, and Kabbalistic hermeneutics. The author concentrates on four characteristics of Idel’s studies in Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism: ecstatic Kabbalah, the definition of Jewish mysticism, Hasidism (...) as a spiritual movement and the study of Jewish magic. In addition he discusses key criticisms leveled at Idel’s treatment of these subjects. (shrink)
The purpose of this essay is to show how, on a wide variety of issues, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein broke new ground with the established Orthodox rabbinic consensus and blazed a new trail in Jewish medical ethics. Rabbi Feinstein took power away from the rabbis and let patients decide their treatment, he opened the door for a Jewish approach to palliative care, he supported the use of new technologies to aid in reproduction, he endorsed altruistic living organ donation and recognized (...) brain death (thus laying the groundwork for Orthodox Jewish acceptance of heart transplantation), he downplayed the value of social worth in triage decisions, and was a fierce defender of the rights of the fetus. I develop broader theological principles from Rabbi Feinstein's ethical positions and compare them to those of his Jewish and Christian contemporaries. (shrink)
For the one who studies the socio-anthropology of religions, the book itself is the main character of the fascinating journey that Moshe Idel proposes in Perfections that absorb. Cabala and interpretation Starting from the imaginary of the book in the Judaic mystical literature, as presented by Moshe Idel, we have found four main hypostases of the book: the book as a pre-existent paradigm, the book as creation, the book as a paradox, and the book as a knowledge tool. (...) We have noticed that these hypostases are to be found also in the folk products from the traditional Romanian settings this showing the presence of similar aspects regarding the representations of the book on a social imaginary level in various cultural areas. Thus, we have tried to present the hermeneutics of the negative and its applicability for the socio-anthropological study of some divinatory phenomena that make reference to the book or whose central point is the book. Moreover, the conclusions of this analysis have demonstrated the large applicability of the hermeneutics of the negative so well described by professor Moshe Idel. This can also be extended to other socio-humanistic sciences. (shrink)
Of the stories describing the adventures full of deep significances of the various rabbis from the glorious Talmudic era, the most famous but also the most exploited is undoubtedly that of the “four sages who entered the Pardes”. If in the Talmudic-Midrashic literature it was used to point out the dangers and achievements that were related to speculations, rather than experiences, and in the mystical literature it was used to point out the dangers that could befall the mystic on his (...) way to God, to the kabbalists, Pardes was an unexplained parable for an unrevealed secret, a generalized metaphor for the danger zones of religious experience, seen as something which was good for the few, but pernicious for others. This article traces the manner in which Moshe Idel analyzes, in his books and lectures, the meanings of this legend, taking the reader on a fascinating journey in time and space, throughout various types of kabbalistic thinking and even maimonidean philosophy. (shrink)
Herbert Marcuse visited Israel in late December 1971 . Summing up his political conclusions at the end of his visit, he published an article in the English-language Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post under the title “Israel is Strong Enough to Concede.”1 A Hebrew translation of that article appeared concurrently in the Israeli daily Haaretz under the title “My Opinions on the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Israel Must Accept the Existence of a Palestinian State.”2 A few days prior to the publication of his (...) article in the Israeli press, Marcuse met with journalists and other guests…. (shrink)