Foreword by KHALIL

Published on 3 Sep 2006 at 10:37 pm. No Comments.
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Birnbaum feels no compulsion to obey the rules that his intellectual predecessors followed. Building on the foundation of ancient Jewish principles, particularly Kabbalistic ones, he is not afraid to draw on Eastern principles of temporal circularity, concepts from biology and physics that have yet to be applied to metaphysical issues, or insights from other scientific and humanistic disciplines that have been left untapped in philosophy.

Asserting that previous attempts to characterize the essence of the cosmos have fallen short for their lack of an adequate conceptual arsenal, as exemplified by Maimonides’ and Aristotle’s impasse, he consolidates these eclectic influences into a defined set of metaphysical ‘tools.’ Birnbaum presents these tools at the outset of God and Good. He then uses them to build a model that is applicable to all the arenas from which its influences were initially derived.

The implications of Birnbaum’s original — markedly straightforward — doctrine therefore, range from the most general to the most specific. The doctrine is unified by the central thesis that unbounded potentiality pulls both the individual and the cosmos towards a Divine ideal. Potential is universal. Potential is the nexus:

“One of the great afflictions of man’s spiritual world is that every discipline of knowledge, every feeling, impedes the emergence of the other…This defect cannot continue permanently. Man’s nobler future is destined to come, when he will develop to a sound spiritual state so that instead of each discipline negating the other, all knowledge, all feeling will be envisioned from any branch of it…No spiritual phenomenon can stand independently. Each is interpenetrated by all.”

Abraham Isaac Kook, Lights of Holiness, I, p. 22

Interestingly, in spite of its novelty, the paradigm elaborated by Birnbaum is no less firmly anchored in Biblical and Talmudic concepts than the previous Jewish perspectives that were restrained by these same influences. For instance, God’s self-identification as “I will be that which I will be” (Exodus 3:14) is perhaps the single best articulation of God and Good’s description of potentiality’s association with God.

~continued~


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