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Showing posts with label Kabalah is a modification of Greek and Christian Philosophy.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kabalah is a modification of Greek and Christian Philosophy.. Show all posts

23.4.16

Kabalah is a modification of Greek and Christian Philosophy.

Kabalah is a modification of Greek and Christian Philosophy. This is not a bad thing but it ought to be acknowledged. What happens instead is people insult Aristotle and ascribe beliefs to him that he did not believe while in the meantime taking ideas from him and claiming them as their own.

Often you find that people bring some question that the ancient philosophers asked. Then they make fun of the question. Then they say over the answer that the philosophers answered, and claim the answer as their own. It is kind of dishonest.







[1] Ten Sepherot. This is the most famous concept in Kabalah. (Lekutai Moharan vol 2: chapter 7).
The Ten Spheres are explained in the Zohar in a spiritual sense (published 1280 C.E.), the Sefer Zohar and the Bahir (published in the eleventh century C.E. in France.) [The word "sphere" is not Hebrew.]
This model had been suggested by Parmenides. [circa 500 b.c.e.] Aet 2;1 Dox 827 "Parmenides taught that there were crowns encircling one another in close succession.." He goes on to paint this scheme. Except he does not place the earth at the center. Neither do the Pythagoreans.
Later, Plato was the first person (on record) to ask for a rational mathematical explanation of the wandering of the planets [in the book, Timaeus, circa 350 B.C.]. To give an approximate answer, Plato sketched a model of a spherical earth in the center of a vast, rotating sphere containing fixed stars (note 3). Inside of this celestial sphere were concentric spheres, like an onion, each carrying one of the planets. Then he asked for a precise mathematical explanation of the reason for the wandering of the planets. His disciple, Eudoxus came up with the mathematical details to complete geometric model.
This model was still accepted in the days of Aristotle (384 -322 B.C.E. about a hundred years before the miracle of Chanukah in 165 B.C.). He put this onion model into his writings and from then on was widely known and accepted.
But a better model was discovered by Apollonius (262-190 B.C.) of wheels and smaller wheels (epicycles) revolving on the larger ones. But the spheres remained as a picture of the location of the planets though they were not used any longer to explain the motion of the planets. [Their problem was they could not explain why the planets get brighter and dimmer.]
By the time of R. Shimon Bar Yochi (about 500 years after Plato) the spheres were well known. The Almagest (published by Ptolemy in 150 C.E.) is a mathematical extremely well detailed account of the motions of the stars and planets. It consists of 13 books. The first one contains an outline of the spheres. The Almagest was translated from the Greek into Latin in 1160. "On The Spheres" by Johannes Sacroboso published in 1220 (30 years before Moshe De Leon 1250-1305) was a standard university text and described the spheres. (You can still see the onion picture in many textbooks that describe ancient astronomy. The mechanical wheel model of the Solar System is still found in some museums.) [The Ten Spheres are the spheres of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Celestial Sphere of the stars, the Crystal Sphere and the Primum Mobile. Outside of all that is the habitation of God.]
Mediaeval Aristotelians (Al Farabi and Avicenna) believed The One created the first intelligence, and that intelligence is aware of the duality, and so created a third thing. This process continues until you get ten intelligences and nine spheres.
The Kabalah took this conceptual scheme and extended the spheres to the spiritual realms also. In the Eitz Chayim, the spherot of igulim are spiritual spheres. (note 4)
But Nachman almost never refers to the sepheres directly (Vol II chapter 7) but to Divine attributes and levels of prophecy and the Ten Commandments and Ten Statements by which the world was created (Vol II chapter 8).
Incidental, Ptolemy had only eight spheres. The celestial sphere is the eighth. I once saw a book that said there was added a Sphere in the Middle Ages because of the precession of the north pole. Ptolemy himself knew about the movement of the North Pole (It was discovered by Hipparchus in about 130 B.C.E.) but he did not add any sphere because of it. Another astronomer during the Middle Ages suggested "trepidation" but not another sphere. As far as I know the ninth sphere, "the crystal sphere", was added in response to the verse about "waters above the firmament" in Genesis. The Tenth was the Primum Mobile. (The ninth was sometimes not counted.)

[2] The wheels. Nachman says the "Higher Intellect" is what makes the "galgalim" גלגלעם (lit. "wheels") go around.(Lekutai Moharan 1:61) [See Plotinus that says the One emanates the Mind and the Mind controls Nature/Soul.]
During the Middle Ages the motion of the planets was accounted for by their being attached to large wheels in the heavens that went around.

[3] The "Zimzum" צימצום (condensation) process of the  Isaac Luria  mentioned by  Nachman in volume 1 chapter 49 and 64 is a is from  Anaximander's [611-547 B.C.E.] theory of creation: that an empty space formed in the middle of the original primordial unlimited stuff of the universe; the warm stuff moved outward and the cold sank inward (that made the empty space)- the reunion of the two created life.
The Greek Philosophers after him modified his ideas in different ways but the same principle still seems to apply to them. First there was an original Primordial unlimited, unchangeable substance. Then somehow it was separated into different things. Then those opposite things came together to create life. Anaxagoras and Empedocles modified this idea to get gradiated levels coming down from the first undifferentiated substance. Thus with Empedocles you get four elements.
Isaac Luria extended the idea of the condensation process into the spiritual realm.

[4] Four elements. [Lekutai Moharan (L.M.) volume 1 chapter 4)] The first one to suggest these as the essential elements was Empedocles. [Born 492 B.C.E.,--the beginning of the Second Temple period.] It is true that the Kabalah also uses this. But R. Shimon bar Yochai lived 600 years after Empedocles.
You could say Empedocles heard it from some Jew. But it was not pulled out of thin air. It came after a long process of thought and argument and debate starting with Thales of Miletus [640 B.C.E.(during the period of the First Temple)] who declared water to be the basis of all matter. Next came Anaximander who wrote that all matter comes from an primordial stuff called "the unlimited" , -- an (apeiron) ether. (Brought in LM 2:67)
Anaximenes took this idea and said the first substance is air which can be modified into fire, water and earth. Heraclites assumed the original substance was fire. This corresponded with his basic idea that the most basic essence of everything is change. Empedocles then came and said there are actually four basic original substances: fire, air, water and earth, built up by two working principles or forces -- Love as the cause of union and Hate as that of separation.
Maybe then too you could say they all got it from the Jews -- but the Jews of that period wrote nothing on science, music, art, and philosophy. There were no writings on principles of existence, space, time, matter, substance or science. There is no evidence that anyone was interested in these subjects. The world was looked upon as God- saturated. God could intervene in all aspects of the world ,- in particular human life. The natural order was looked at as something to change, not understand.

R. Natan understood . Nachman to mean the wheels are real. See L.M. vol 1 ch 61. That chapter was said by Nachman but written by  Natan. There it is clear that the wheels are not orbits. The Divine Intelligence makes the wheels go around and on them are attached the planets. It seems  Natan believed in the "wheels" as he reported  Nachman (of Breslov and Uman) to have said, "The earth does not move." After all, in the wheels model of the solar system, the earth is at the center.
As a side note, -- the earth does move. You can see this from the way your cell phone works. The satellite that makes it work is in stationary orbit around the earth (i.e. stationary above the ground). The way it got there was by sending it up at an angle. So as it moves around in its orbit and the earth moves under it it seems stationary. If the Earth did not move only sending it up straight would make it stationary. But then it would fall down.
Perhaps R. Nachman really said everything moves relative to the earth. -i.e it is stationary reference frame.
At least we know from General Relativity that you can choose any frame of reference that you want including an accelerating one. So from the standpoint of General Relativity, Reb Nachman. might have said you can take the earth as a steady frame of reference. But that is not the same as saying it does not move.

[5] Ether (Iyuli) (Sichot Ha'Ran 40. LM 2:67). Aristotle conceived the Iyuli to account for the fact that the heavenly spheres don't seem to follow the same laws as air, fire, water, earth.
The problem is this. Matter if left alone comes to a stop. All matter. All matter that is except the heavenly spheres. So they can't be made of ordinary matter. And they need to be strong enough to hold the stars in place. So the spheres must be made of a perfectly transparent, Fifth element Iyuli [ether].
Now I have thought for years that the Aether that is mentioned by kabalists and RN could be said to refer to some relevant concept like quantum foam. But here I am only giving one source from where the concept came from.
Perhaps you can say RN referred to some advanced concept and Aristotle to some primitive concept. But Aristotle seems to have anticipated the modern approach. He rejects empty space completely. This seems corroborated by modern physics. What we call empty space definitely has a deep mathematical structure to it. (See the  Bohm effect.) (Do the classical scattering experiment of quantum mechanics, but put a solenoid nearby and you will see this. Space itself changes its structure.) Space is filled with quantum foam or something like it.


[6] R. Nachman says Matter and Form equals Body and Soul [LM Volume 1 chapter 37].This is straight from Plotinus.
The first one to suggest that all things consist of matter and form was Aristotle (Metaphysics book 7). Together they equal substance. This idea came as an answer to a question that had bothered philosophers for hundreds of years, i.e. what exists? We see physical things change. What part or aspect of physical things is it that has essential existence? (Matter itself can't be said to have existence as a basic part of its essence because it can be destroyed and changed. Since existence must be, therefore any given piece of matter that might not be can't be said to have essential existence. There must be something that possesses existence itself. Or maybe not. Maybe everything changes. That is the question the Greeks were trying to answer.) Some said only fire exists. Others said water. Empedocles said four things: fire, air, water, earth.
Aristotle answered matter and form. From this idea, he came out with a system that looks very much like the four worlds of the Kabalah. For Aristotle saw the universe as being between two extremes - pure Form with no matter and pure Matter with no form. Matter is pure potential. Form is pure Action. The process going from potential into action is in four stages (by four causes: material cause - "out of which", efficient cause - "by which", formal cause- "essence", and final cause-"for what purpose".)
Plotinus suggested that Matter and Form equal Body and Soul. (The Six Enneads. Ennead 1. written in Rome 260 C.E. - during the period of the Amoraim.)


[7]  Nachman say ones entire portion in the next world depend on "Acquired Intelligence" [Lekutai Moharan vol. 1 chapter 25]. "What is left over from a person after his death is his acquired intelligence. That is- that by which he knows everything a human being can know (in one thought)."
The First person to suggest that virtue and wisdom are mutually dependent was King David. But that ones portion in the next world depends on wisdom seems to be unique to the Rambam.
The first one to suggest potentiality and actuality as basic components of nature and the mind in particular was Aristotle. ["Physics" and "On Generation" pg. 319b-320a] This also was not pulled out of a hat like a magic trick. It was the sum result of a complicated long train of thought. Aristotle asked how we conceive things. He used his idea of actuality and potentiality to answer this question. He said there is potential intelligence. It is passive. But there is also an Active Intelligence that sets up categories in the world to make it conceivable. Without it, it would be impossible to understand anything. The idea that ones portion in the next world depends gaining this intelligence is from the Rambam (More Nevuchim 3:27). This is a very radical opinion and disagrees with normative Judaism that says one's portion in the next world depends on doing good deeds. It is surprising that R. Nachman bring this idea from the Rambam. (It is not from the ancient Greeks.)
So the Rambam himself has a source for this;-- Socrates. In the opinion of Socrates Know edge equals virtue. The Rambam made a simple deduction. If knowledge is virtue and ones portion in the next world depends on virtue then ones portion depends on knowledge. I think the reason is Knowing God's will gives a vessel or God's will to come on one and take hold of him and his life.
RN seems to contradict this later in the stories and in many other places in the LM but in Vol 1:25 it is what he says.
I am not aware of any place Socrates might have said ones portion in the next world depends on knowledge. Plato certainly believed being attached and included in the One is the sum total and goal of all virtue, but did he make it dependent on knowledge like Socrates did? I don't know. If not then the idea of the Rambam is his own or Ibn Rushd's.
The implication is that few people can come to the level of knowing everything that a human being can know. Therefore few people can even hope for any portion in the next world unless one is connected to a true tzadik who does have this knowledge.
One needs to come to and be one entity with the Mind of God or be connected with a true saint who is so connected.
(RN does say to learn the Shulchan Aruch which starts with a quotation from the More Nevuchim,Guide for the Perplexed  in the Rema so don't be surprised if he quotes from it in the Lekutai Moharan.)
The Rambam also says in Hilchot Teshuva says that one portion in the next world depends on deeds and wisdom. Wisdom he says in the first chapter of the Eight Chapters is synonymous with knowing the nature of unchanging things, i.e. metaphysics.

[8] Nachman says the human soul has certain powers: a power  of growth [LM 1:154], and a power of imagination [LM 1:25] and others. These were originally conceived by Aristotle. He placed great importance on the type of soul something possesses. He said plants have a vegetative soul which has only power of growth. An animal has a vegetative and a sensitive soul that can feel and imagine and that is responsible for movement. Humans have the first two and also a rational soul. [Aristotle was the first to make a distinction between the rational soul from the feeling soul (except for Alcmacon). Also, he was the first to attribute powers to the soul, not parts. People had known that people can see and talk but no one had ascribed those abilities to the soul.]
All the Mediaeval Jewish thinkers (Rishonim ראשונים) that I am aware of accepted this system. But it is not mentioned in the Talmud as far as I remember.

[9] Theory of Thunder. Nachman says hot vapor goes into a cloud and splits it (LM Vol 1 68:8). This is based on Anaximenedes that the cloud is under pressure like a balloon and you need only to prick it for it to split. RN might have seen this idea in Aristotle. (Meteorology Book II.) But again the remarkable thing about RN is though his terminology is archaic, it is a modification of the Greek idea that corresponds to modern science. For, in fact, there is hot vapor that goes into the cloud from the ground (i.e. electricity) and splits it.

[10]  Nachman from Uman said "Vision is the result of the power of vision from the eye hitting the object and then returning."[LM 13:4]
Plato’s theory of vision is thus: There are three types of fire or light. One is daylight from the sun. Second is the light issuing from the eye. It is a current of light or fire. Third is the color of the object. It is "a flame streaming off from every body having particles proportional to those of the visual current so as to yield sensation "when the two meet".
RN does not use the idea of light or fire but substitutes in its place an idea from Aristotle "the power of sight".
RN says that when the eye sees a mountain that the mountain is contained in the eye. So the eye is greater than the mountain. The question on this is this: since the mountain is tall, heavy, and full of trees and birds,-- so the eye would have to be tall and heavy and full of trees and birds.
One way of answering this is with quantum physics that the mountain is just a probability wave until it is observed. So the eye it what makes it a mountain. Another way is a theorem in mathematics that any object can be cut and sliced in such a way as to fit into a smaller object. No one has show a practical way for me to use this theorem when I pack my bags but still it is good to know.
The idea of  Nachman from Uman about the eye containing the mountain is from Aristotle. "How do we perceive a cat?" Aristotle asks. He says: The form of the cat which is its essence is embedded in the eye and from there into the mind. But whereas the form of the cat on matter makes a cat, the form of the cat in the mind makes a understanding of the cat and the mind becomes formally (in form) identical with the object.
The question I asked on this idea is from Abelard.
I once thought perhaps R. Nachman is hinting to this idea from Quantum Mechanics but a careful reading on LM 1:76 and 1:13 reveals that he is just quoting the theory of Aristotle about perception (the containment theory.)
--but in a way consistent with quantum mechanics.


[11] The peak of knowledge is to know that we don't know. (LM Volume 2 chapter 83). This is directly from Socrates [The Apology 23a-b]. For Socrates went to the oracle of Delphi. She told him he is the wisest of all men. He did not understand because he knew that he knew nothing. So he returned to Athens and went over to someone reputed to be an expert in some field. After a little bit of questioning he discovered that expert really knew nothing. He did this same process over and over again until he finally understood the oracle. She meant he is the wisest of all me because everyone else thought they knew something,--but he knew that he knew nothing. Then he understood that that is what the oracle meant--the greatest knowledge is to know that you know nothing in the way that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens because everyone one else thought they knew what wisdom is an justice etc and Socrates knew that he did not know these things. If you know nothing that is more than someone who knows wrong things. Minus one is less than zero.
He also explained that he is wise because he knows human wisdom is nothing compared to Divine Wisdom.

[12] Five differences between Divine and human knowledge. (LM 1:53, More Nevuchim 3:20).
There is a quantum leap from Creator to created. This is the place where it looks to me that the Rambam wishes to bridge between his own Aristotelian point of view and Plato. I think he must have thought that somehow he had resolved the conflict between them by means of insights from the Torah. I think this is how Avraham Abulafia understood him also when he claimed that the More Nevuchim contained the secret of the redemption.

[13] RN says (LM 1:25) souls are all one over the other and each a garment for the other. This a clear hint to the Reshash (Shalom Sharabi) that holiness is above. But in the future Z&N will be the same height as father and mother which will be the same height as Arich etc. The spiritual levels will all be internal.

[14] All souls in their root above are one. Plotinus Enead 4:5 LM vol 1 ch 265

[15] All souls are on a gradiated scale of perfection like a ladder. (LM 1:25) Aristotle said all creatures are on a graded scale of perfection: the "scale naturae" i.e. the great chain of being.

[16] The origin of evil from "shvirat hakelim" שבירת הכלים (breaking of the vessels) (a concept beginning in the Eitz Chayim by the Isaac Luria and brought in the Lekutai Moharan in Vol I Chapter 64  is  from Origen. For Origen the regular order of world being created to provide man with an opportunity to perfect himself until some cataclysmic event happened to cause everything to fall.




[18] Nachan says the Shechina is the mediator between God and Man.
The thing about a principle is it has to apply across the board (or it is not a principle). Either a mediator is kosher or not. It can't be used against Christians and then somehow forgotten about Jewsih Tzadikim. Yo can't have it both ways. Either it is kosher or not. Period.
I think the idea of intention really spells out the prohibition (isur) of idolatry completely. It is not so much what one does as much as what one intends. Does he go to the Beit HaMikdash for a bracha from Hashem? Does one go to the ziun of  Nachman for a bracha from Hashem or from R. Nachman?
We know already the Chazal say that idolatry is intention dependent, so I think "mediator" also is the same.

[19]  Nachman said one should learn and know the nature of the world. Yet he criticized outer wisdoms and scientists. How does this fit? He spoke at great lengths against doctors, but when the first vaccinations against small pox arrived in the Ukraine (circa 1800), he said one must take his children even in the middle of winter to get them vaccinated.
RN's polemic was against man-made wisdoms, not against the wisdom of God contained in creation.

[20] This is not the place to discuss the Zohar but at least for the record, it seems to me that the Torah gives a prerequisite for a prophet - predict a positive event. The Zohar did this,--revival of the dead in the year of the massacre of Jews in the Ukraine (1648-1649). The Gemara also (Avodah Zara pg 9) also did so. It predicts the Messiah before the year 470 C.E. Now none of this is a problem if you don't assume they are Divine. The Gemara does not say it is the word of God, nor does the Zohar. But if one says they are, then there is a serious problem.
[See testimony of Isaac of Akko in Sefer Ha'Yuchsim.]

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Part II Mistakes in books of Breslov.

It is natural in writing down the statements of another person by memory, a lot is lost and mixed up. But since they are written down as if R Nachman said them it is my job to correct them.

[1]  Natan wrote that the Rambam claimed the first four chapters of Mishna Torah contain all science and metaphysics. But that is not what the Rambam wrote. He wrote: "They contain inyanim (ideas) from science and metaphysics." Not "All". There is a difference between "some" and "all". For example: "I went to the supermarket and bought some products and came home and had a meal." I did not mean to imply I bought the entire supermarket and came home and had the meal to end all meals.
In that chapter the Rambam writes openly that those chapters are not the whole work of Creation (Maase Merchava) and are not even a drop in the ocean. So how if it possible to accuse the Rambam of saying the opposite of what he really said.

[2] R. Natan explains LM vol 1 chap 24 in a way different than what RN actually writes in that teaching.

[3] The dead and the living don't pile up to the sky and the world can still be infinitely old. It is called conservation of matter.

[4] Aristotle was a monotheist. The statements about him in Sichot Haran and in Lekutai Halachot are not accurate.

[5] A brief introduction. In Lekutai Moharan 52, R. Natan wrote in the name of R. Nachman that there are apikorsim that say, "It is necessary for the world to exist." He says, Dirt to their faces for the whole creation is only possible to exist. But from where does their mistake come from. It is after Hashem created the souls of Israel that the whole universe becomes "necessary of existence".
The problem here is taking the statement of the apikorsim out of context and giving it a different meaning. The original question was what exists? It did not seem to make sense to say regular objects exist since they change. If it changes it does not seems to be existing on its own but something else is making it or changing it at will. The philosophers were looking for something that does not change. They came up with "substance", -- some unchanging sublayer.
Parmenides held, what is must be. And what isn't cant be. For him there is only one unchanging necessary Being--that is and can't not be. Everything that we see, since it changes, can't be existing.
To get to change as a real thing Plato had to create a world of Forms where things do exist but are not that original unchanging First Being. That is an intermediate stage between God and the physical universe.
[For Plato that is enough. But Aristotle still finds problems with this world of Forms until you add Form to it and then you get existence i.e. individual existing things.]
But at any rate, to Plato we see the world of Forms "must be".
But then in the Middle Ages with people like  Avraham Abulafia arose the question of that is the universe must be then it is not being created very second. The question of contingent and necessity existence and truths had begun with Aristotle.
On all this basis wrote the following comment on Nachman.
 Nachman said, "the universe became 'necessary of existence' after souls of Israel were formed."
But there was not time before creation (as R. Nachman says in a different place) and how does that answer the question of change? For the whole idea of necessary existence puts a block on change. If we say now it is necessary of existence, it can't change and answering there are Jewish souls does not help.
Unless  Nachman means that souls of Israel are universals. But in that case he is not using the phrase "souls of Israel" in the common sense.

Appendix:
1) The Geon from Vilna did hold from learning Kabalah as understood by him to be the Zohar, Isaac Luria, Moshe from Cordoba. Even though he must have been aware that many of the fundamental concepts of Kabalah come from the ancient Greek philosophers, the pre Socratics. He probably  thought that the concepts were right and that also the Kabalah went beyond the initial insights of the pre Socratics and developed a highly sophisticated  metaphysical system that in fact corresponds to reality.

2) Nachman from Uman   uses Aristotle's theory of sight--but then changes it slightly so that it could be interpreted as the classical quantum experiment and the Kant notion that the seer contributes to the image.



3) Nachman on the other hand attempts to deal with  the problem of knowledge right away in LM Vol I, Chapter 23.--the problem of the regress of reason. I can't help but wonder if he is not hinting to a type of Platonic knowledge that is not perceived and not thought.)