Two philosophical positions adopted by Soloveitchik in his doctoral dissertation continued to inform his Jewish philosophical writings throughout his career. The first position, epistemological pluralism, stands behind Soloveitchik’s approach to the religious view of causality and repentance in his writings during the 1940s–1960s. It also grounds his consistent use of the dialectical method. The second position, the eternal mystery of the unknown, comes from the Marburg neo-Kantian Paul Natorp; this idea is a consistent thread throughout Soloveitchik’s writings and a foundation of his existentialist writings through the late 1970s. The conclusion suggests how these two positions might be related to one another.
This analysis of Cohen’s reception of Spinoza’s thought draws attention to theoretical issues: the nature of thinking and the thinking of nature. In a synoptic way it refers to several of Cohen’s works, trying to determine continuity and discontinuity in his interpretation of Spinoza, with a specific focus on Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata. Thus, Cohen’s reception of Spinoza’s thought seems to be characterized by a continuity similar to what we can find in Cohen’s philosophical system as a whole. Discrepancies in his interpretation of Spinoza correspond to a progressive refinement of his own speculative approach.
In contrast to previous attempts to establish a direct relation between Freud and Kabbalah, this article argues for an indirect relationship mediated by way of Schelling’s philosophy. My claim is that Freud’s Oedipus complex partly originated in Schelling’s idea of God’s contraction, which he arguably derived from the Lurianic doctrine of zimzum. Furthermore, in thinking of the oedipal complex, and of repression more generally, as a late development of the Lurianic and Schellingian imagination of what I call “productive negativity,” I suggest that an important conceptual horizon is opened for the Freudian concept, one that transcends the widespread but narrow formulation of repression as a retroactive and regressive mental mechanism.
Cosmological descriptions and interpretations of the process of creation in kabbalistic literature deeply influenced various conceptual issues, especially the definition of “history.” Sefer ha-Temuna, which first appeared in Byzantium over the course of the fourteenth century, presents a unique concept of history in which the entire world operates according to a precise and predetermined model: the Sabbatical theory (Torat ha-shemitot). Its approach, however, was criticized by the Safed kabbalists in the sixteenth century. This article attempts to explain why this idea continued to influence Eastern European kabbalists in later generations, despite the harsh opposition it encountered.
The challenge of evil to rational Abrahamic religions has clearly been articulated in modern philosophy of religion predicated on the incompatibility of the omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and omniscience of God with the existence of evils. Even within the Islamic theological and philosophical traditions, there is a venerable history of theodicies and defences of a good God and the efficacy of human free will. That is the context in which we wish to locate the contributions in this special issue that examine the ways in which evil is considered in Islamic philosophical accounts (particularly of the Šiʿi traditions) from the classical period to the present.
Despite the extensive work on the Safavid thinker Mullā Ṣadrā Šīrāzī (d. 1045/1636) nowadays in metropolitan academia, certain areas of philosophical and theological concern remain understudied, if studied at all – and even then, there is little attempt to consider his work in the light of philosophical analysis. We know of a venerable philosophical tradition of analysing the question of providence as a means for examining questions of creation (ex nihilo or otherwise), the problem of evil, determinism and free will, and the larger question of theodicy (and whether this world that we inhabit is indeed the ‘best of all possible worlds’). I propose to examine these questions through an analysis of a section of the theology in al-Asfār al-arbaʿa (The Four Journeys) of Mullā Ṣadrā (mawqifVIII of safarIII) and juxtapose it with passages from his other works, all the while contextualising it within the longer Neoplatonic tradition of providence and evil. The section of the Asfār plays a pivotal role in outlining a wider theory of divine providence: following the analysis of the Avicennian proof for the existence of God as the Necessary Being and her attributes, and before the culmination on the emanative scheme of creation (or the incipience of the cosmos – ḥudūṯ al-ʿālam), Mullā Ṣadrā discusses the question of divine providence where one can clearly discern the influence of previous thinkers on him, namely Avicenna (d. 428/1037, al-Šifāʾ and Risālat al-ʿišq) al-Ġazālī (d. 505/ 1111, Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-dīn), and Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240, al-Futūḥāt al-makkīya). The section can be divided into four discussions: defining providence as well as the nature of good and evil, accounting for the ‘presence’ of evil in the cosmos, the ‘best of all possible worlds’, and erotic motion of the cosmos as well as the erotic attraction of humans for one another and back to their Origin. What emerges, however, is an account of providence that is subservient to Mullā Ṣadrā’s wider ontological commitment to the primary reality of being, its modulation and essential motion – the tripartite doctrines of aṣālat al-wuǧūd, taškīk al-wuǧūd and al-ḥaraka al-ǧawharīya – and fits within his overall approach to the procession of the cosmos from the One as a divine theophany and its reversion back to the One through theosis. Thus, an analysis of providence and evil demonstrates that underlying significance of Mullā Ṣadrā’s metaphysical commitments to a modulated monism.
The problem of the goodness of God, the freedom of man and the origin of Evil, i.e. theodicy, proves to be particularly acute in Twelver Shiʿi Islam, because of the historical awareness of evil within the community and of the fundamental dualism, metaphysical as well as moral, of the doctrine. However, this problem was the subject of various essays by Iranian Shiʿi philosophers of Neoplatonic inspiration, trying to harmonize the teachings of the Shiʿi tradition (i.e. the ḥadīṯs attributed to the Impeccable imams) with the arguments of the Avicennian philosophy. The first part of the article focuses in detail on the works of the philosopher, theologian and lawyer Mīr Dāmād (m. 1041/1631). His reflections on the problem are not collected in a single book, as they are in Leibniz, but scattered in works belonging to different fields (fiqh, kalām, or philosophy per se), in Arabic or in Persian. He deals successively with the problem of human freedom (qadar) versus divine determinism (ǧabr); with the Imami notion of badāʾ, i.e. the apparent change of the divine Will in the course of history; with Good and Evil with regard to the ontological categories of essence (ḏāt), accident (ʿaraḍ), existence (wuǧūd), and non-existence (ʿadam); with the execution of eschatological threats and the punishment of the damned – thus embracing all the dimensions of the problem and phenomenon of evil. The second part of the article considers some logical and unexpected developments of Mīr Dāmād’s theses in the works of two of his students, Mullā Šamsā Gīlānī (m. 1064/1654), in a brief epistle on perfection, and Quṭb al-Dīn Aškiwarī (m. between 1088/1677 and 1095/1684), in a monumental history of universal wisdom. This should make appear that the problem of Evil was a powerful catalyst for the emergence of a “Shiʿi philosophy” in the 11th/17th century.
Le problème de la bonté de Dieu, de la liberté de l’homme et de l’origine du mal, c’est-à-dire de la théodicée, s’avère particulièrement délicat dans l’islam shiʿite duodécimain, du fait de la conscience historique du mal dans la communauté et du dualisme foncier, moral et métaphysique, de la doctrine. Ce problème fit pourtant l’objet de véritables essais de théodicée chez des philosophes shiʿites iraniens d’inspiration néoplatonicienne, s’efforçant de concilier les enseignements de la tradition shiʿite (les ḥadīṯs attribués aux imâms impeccables) et les arguments de la philosophie avicennienne. La première partie de l’article se concentre sur l’œuvre du philosophe, théologien et juriste Mīr Dāmād (m. 1041/1631). Ses réflexions sur le problème ne sont pas rassemblées dans un même livre, à la différence de Leibniz, mais disséminées dans des ouvrages de différents domaines (fiqh, kalām, philosophie per se), en arabe et en persan. Il traite successivement du problème de la liberté humaine (qadar) vs le déterminisme divin (ǧabr) ; de la notion imâmite de badāʾ, le changement apparent de la Volonté divine dans le cours de l’histoire ; du bien et du mal au regard des catégories ontologiques de l’essence (ḏāt) et de l’accident (ʿaraḍ), de l’existence (wuǧūd) et de l’inexistence (ʿadam) ; de l’exécution des menaces eschatologiques et du châtiment des damnés – embrassant ainsi toutes les dimensions du problème et du phénomène du mal. La seconde partie de l’article étudie les prolongements, à la fois cohérents et inattendus, des thèses de Mīr Dāmād chez deux de ses élèves, Mullā Šamsā Gīlānī (m. 1064/1654), dans une épître sur la perfection, et Quṭb al-Dīn Aškiwarī (m. entre 1088/1677 et 1095/1684), dans une histoire de la sagesse universelle. Le problème du mal apparaît ainsi comme un facteur d’émergence d’une authentique « philosophie shiʿite » au XIe/XVIIe siècle.
La question du mal problème pose un problème aigu au sein de la doctrine de l’âme d’Avicenne. Comment l’âme humaine qui est une substance spirituelle inaltérable impassible peut-elle être affectée par le mal commis ? Répondre à cette question nécessite l’étude de l’eschatologie avicennienne de même que celle du statut des normes éthiques. Ces dernières ne sont, selon Avicenne, pas universelles et donc pas accessibles à l’intellect mais sont données par la révélation. On ne peut comprendre la question du mal moral chez Avicenne sans la replacer dans le système métaphysique et éthique du philosophe persan.
The question of evil poses an acute problem within Avicenna’s doctrine of the soul. How can the human soul, which is an unalterable spiritual substance, be affected by the evil committed? Answering this question requires the study of Avicenna’s eschatology as well as the study of the status of ethical norms. The latter, according to Avicenna, are not universal and therefore not accessible to the intellect but are given by revelation. The question of moral evil in Avicenna cannot be understood without placing it in the metaphysical and ethical system of the Persian philosopher.