Kenotic Overflow and Temporal Transcendence

Elliot R. Wolfson

in Saintly Influence

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230877
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235612 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Kenotic Overflow and Temporal Transcendence

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This chapter engages in a patient reconstruction of the philosophy of time by turning to a text by the medieval kabbalist Abraham Abulafia that explicitly treats the influence of the divine overflow. In Abulafia's mystical system, based primarily on associating an ontological equality between Hebrew words and phrases that have the identical numerical value, the kabbalist in meditational practice receives an intellectual influx from the Tetragrammaton, which allows the mystic to intuit that opposites are indeed one. Yet despite the rhetoric of union that is omnipresent in Abulafia's work, the chapter shows that this is not a quasi-Hegelian totalizing move in which all opposites are dissolved in the unity of the divine. Instead, the unity of opposites must include the unity of the static and the dynamic; for Abulafia, the divine is always temporalized. History is the divine life: there is no static nature to the divine being, but only historical becoming. The influx that the mystic receives thereby maintains the contingency of history and produces influence in Wyschogrod's sense. In this way, the category of influence allows scholars to uncover the intimacy of the postmodern and the classical.

Keywords: Edith Wyschogrod; philosophy of time; Tetragrammaton; kabbalah; influence

Chapter.  17675 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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