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What is the relationship between the concept of person and the concept of intentionality? Is the phenomenological notion of essence somehow related to that of medieval philosophies? What kind of entity is the person understood in her irreducible singularity? These are some of the questions that the chapters in this book seek to address and develop by focusing on the thought of Aquinas, Scotus and Edith Stein.
Indeed, the editors of the book are led by the conviction that a fruitful dialogue between medieval philosophy and 20th century phenomenology may prove useful in addressing questions and problems that are still relevant in contemporary debates. The book is divided into three sections, devoted respectively to medieval philosophy, phenomenology and some of the possible systematic and historical intersections between them.
Contributors are Sarah Borden Sharkey, Antonio Calcagno, Therese Cory, Daniele De Santis, Andrew LaZella, Dominik Perler, Giorgio Pini, Francesco Valerio Tommasi, Anna Tropia, and Ingrid Vendrell Ferran.
Author:
Does God Doubt? shows that Rabbi Gershon Henoch Leiner of Radzin considered God to be revealed as doubt. Thus, according to this profound and important nineteenth-century Hasidic leader, doubt is an essential aspect of the human condition, and especially of religious life. His position is shown to be remarkably bold and unique compared to kabbalistic writing, and especially to the Hasidic worlds to which he belonged. At the same time, the roots of his thought are located in earlier discussions of doubt as one of the highest parts of the divine world. Doubt about, in, and of God is part of the Hasidic contribution to modernity.
In: Rethinking Intentionality, Person and the Essence
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Abstract

Here, R. Gershon Henoch’s doctrine of doubt is compared to that found in the other modern kabbalistic circle that engaged intensely and often positively with doubt—that led by R. Abraham Isaac Kook. New findings as to the engagement with sceptical philosophy on the part of Kook’s student, R. David Kohen, as well as Kook’s influence on a later figure in the Izbicha-Radzin dynasty, are adduced. Moving further into the twentieth century, the place of doubt in the thought of the modern Musar movement is considered, including its debt to Izbicha-Radzin thought. The main figures discussed here are R. Isaac Hutner and his students in Israel and the United States. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the phenomenology of doubt in modern literature, especially in Hebrew (Haim Hazaz), and includes a personal testimonial by the poet Leonard Cohen. In this context, representations of the Jew as a figure of scepticism are examined. The book ends with a reflection on the troubling contemporary manufacturing of doubt.

In: Does God Doubt? R. Gershon Henoch Leiner’s Thought in Its Contexts
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Abstract

This chapter commences with a general survey of R. Gershon Henoch’s library, then focuses on the place of doubt in the kabbalistic sources with which he worked. The examination commences with the varied manifestations of the mythic image of the “unknown head,” or the locus of doubt in the highest recesses of the divine realm, in the classic work of medieval Kabbalah: the Zohar. The greater part of the chapter examines the main modern sources through a close textual reading. Firstly, it presents the systemisation of a series of doubts related to the unknown head in the highly formative doctrine of Isaac Luria through the bifurcation of epistemological or ontological kinds of doubt. The second kind is far more unsettling, as it includes the possibility of the godhead not knowing itself! Next, the development of this quandary in modern Italian Kabbalah (especially that of R. Moses Chaim Luzzatto) is perused, uncovering the role of psychological/existential dimensions of doubt in his well-crafted locutions. The nexus between theories of doubt and theodicy appears here, and it is demonstrated that Luzzatto also reflected on the relationship between doubt and religious language as such.

In: Does God Doubt? R. Gershon Henoch Leiner’s Thought in Its Contexts
Author:

Abstract

After the first-ever survey of the totality of R. Gershon Henoch’s Hasidic writing, this chapter delves into his phenomenology of doubt. It shows that he went far beyond his predecessors in an unparalleled positioning of doubt at the centre of the human condition and the cosmos at large. Thus, doubt is not relegated to a certain religious type. Furthermore, R. Gershon usually displays a remarkable acceptance of uncertainty, even as to the very existence of God! In his approach, God wishes us to be in doubt and can aptly be said to manifest as doubt. In a similarly radical manner, R. Gershon Henoch’s scepticism leads in to a marked relativisation of good and evil.

The close reading of R. Gershon Henoch’s Hasidic corpus also exposes his innovative religious psychology, encompassing themes such as trust, body-soul relations, and wonder. The relationship between doubt and the law is also taken up at length. The final part of the chapter deals with the nexus of doubt and messianism, as part of a general concern with temporality, historiosophy, and eschatology. It demonstrates that contrary to scholarly expectations, it is difficult to regard R. Gershon Henoch as a messianic thinker.

In: Does God Doubt? R. Gershon Henoch Leiner’s Thought in Its Contexts
Author:

Abstract

This chapter commences with a general examination of the relationship between R. Gershon Henoch’s writing and that of his dynastic predecessors. Then, there is a close reading of the array of sources pertaining to doubt in Mei ha-Shiloah, which was written by the founder of the dynasty, R. Mordechai Joseph Leiner. This corpus is shown to have associated doubt with certain religious types, and especially with the Jewish people. At the same time, doubt is revealed to be part of a sophisticated phenomenology of religious experience, interfacing with themes such as truth and awe. A nuanced position as to the oft-debated question of antinomianism is offered here. The second part of the chapter contains the first comprehensive overview of the corpus penned by R. Jacob Leiner, the dynastic heir. R. Jacob is shown to have espoused a complex, yet largely reserved stance towards doubt. His development of the phenomenology and psychology of doubt is seen to include themes such as hope, prayer, and temporality (especially the role of the Sabbath and festivals). Gender imagery is also considered. Overall, the chapter considers the interplay of the phenomenology of doubt with the oft-surprising modes of biblical exegesis favoured by the dynasty.

In: Does God Doubt? R. Gershon Henoch Leiner’s Thought in Its Contexts
In: Rethinking Intentionality, Person and the Essence