Sunday, March 29, 2009

Judaism & Jewish Philosophy: A Selected Bibliography

Having recently posted bibliographies for Hinduism, Classical Chinese Worldviews, and Buddhism as part of the larger Directed Reading series, we move on to the so-called Western monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, sometimes referred to as the "religions of Abraham." And "so-called" because the geo-historical boundaries between East and West are not sharp, in this instance illustrated by the fact that these are Semitic worldviews, the word Semite referring to "a member of any of various ancient and modern people originating in southwestern Asia, including Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Arabs, and Ethiopian Semites." Yet it is these Semitic traditions that are central to what we call Western civilization(s). The fuzziness of geo-historical boundaries is reinforced with the case of Zoroastrianism, often cited as "uniquely important in the history of religion because of its possible formative links to both Western and Eastern religious traditions." Indeed, those links are indirectly or implicitly revealed in Barbara Holdrege's groundbreaking comparative study, Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture (1995).

The oldest of these Semitic religious worldviews is of course
Judaism, and hence the first of our next three bibliographies. Yet our list goes beyond religion as such in so far as many self-described Jews are of secular or humanist orientation and thus not religious, however much they identify with this or that aspect of Jewish history, culture or philosophy, or even simply the modern state of Israel. Modern narratives of Western intellectual history rightly grant pride of place to such emblematic or iconic secular Jews as Marx, Freud and Einstein, thereby according a rather different meaning to the adjectival phrase "Judeo-Christian" when speaking to the character of Western civilization (its other face being Greco-Roman; and we might endeavor to appreciate the Islamo-Christian quality of this civilization as well). For our bibliography, this secular or humanist Jewish dimension is confined to that which falls within the rubric of Jewish philosophy and explains the title of this particular compilation.

Perhaps needless to say, there are no hard and fast boundaries between religion and philosophy, a fact far easier to appreciate in the case of Asian worldviews but no less important with regard to Western civilization(s). For instance, the
theodicy question that arises from an examination of the problem of evil in theistic belief (i.e., belief in an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent deity alongside the facts of suffering and evil as intrinsic to the human condition) is an unavoidable one for all sincere Jews, Christians and Muslims, a question that appears resistant if not unamenable to rationalist resolution but is no less urgent for all that. Now even if one is not a theist, as are atheists or agnostics (keeping in mind that one might, like the Buddhist, be religious and non-theist), the question of evil or suffering simpliciter is unavoidable and the possible answers, while now of "naturalist" or "materialist" construction, are no less poignant or urgent, at the very least they are not ready-made. More generally, discussions of the "meaning of life" make mincemeat of sharp divisions between religion and philosophy (even if there was a time in the world of anglophone analytic philosophy when this would have been derisively dismissed as a 'pseudo-' or meaningless question!), and one of the merits of non-religious existentialist philosophy (or humanistic psychology for that matter) is that it confronted this topic in a forthright and relatively clear manner (cf. Owen Flanagan's The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World, 2007, a recent attempt to deal seriously with this 'meaning' question from the premises of a naturalistic metaphysics). We might, with John Haldane (in his essay, 'On the Very Idea of Spiritual Values,' in Anthony O'Hear, ed., Philosophy, the Good, the True and the Beautiful, 2000), think too of the perspectives provided by non-religious yet "spiritual" philosophies, such as the Hellenistic "therapies of desire" analyzed by Martha Nussbaum. Jewish philosophy may be avowedly non-religious, but perhaps on occasion it is nevertheless "spiritual," in either case it does not avoid the inevitable question of evil and suffering.

It is not only the treatment of common topics or questions, or the focus on particular kinds of experience, virtue ethics and contemplation, that make the boundaries between religions and philosophies porous, but the vigorous cognitive or rational dimensions found within religions (cf. James Kellenberger's outline of the 'third perspective' in The Cognitivity of Religion: Three Perspectives, 1985; the 'natural theology' tradition of Catholicism; and Oliver Leaman's remark in A Brief Introduction to Islamic Philosophy, 1999, that 'I do not know if it is ever useful to rank religions with respect to rationality, but were this to be done, there is little doubt that Islam would score highly. There are many references to the importance of reason in the Qur'an, and Islam seems to take pride, at least in its early years, in presenting itself as highly rational.') that likewise attest to the welcome and ineluctable philosophical permeability of religious worldviews. The figure of
Moses Maimonides, for instance, is compelling evidence of the proposition that it is not always easy to distinguish Jewish religious tradition from Jewish philosophical tradition. Philosophy is a strong and essential element of the Oral Law in Judaism and it came to be an equally vibrant component of the kabbalistic mystical tradition (As Leaman notes, 'In most cases, the mystical understandings of Judaism had no difficulty in linking up with the rational and legal approach....').


Anonymous Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

I have written following two papers which may lead to the realization for a higher theory of everything:
(i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator,
(1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, Lonavla Yoga Institute, Lonavla, January, 2006)
(ii) In Scientific Terminology, Source of Gravitational Wave is God
(2nd World Congress on Vedic Science, BHU, Varanasi, Feb 2007)
I have presented these two papers at the two different International Conferences. I am now submitting some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory
From Scriptures: (Prem Patra by His Holiness Huzur Maharaj)
The Current which manifested in the beginning of the creation is the Current of Sabda (Sound) and of Chaitanya (Consciousness). From whom that Current issued forth is known as Soami (Supreme Being). This Current, by turning back can merge again in the Holy Feet of Supreme Being. The entire creation manifested from this current and is sustained with its energy and when the Current of the Holy Feet is withdrawn, the creation ceases to exist.This Current of the Holy Feet is the Reservoir of all energy, tastes and pleasures, knowledge, skill, shapes, forces and light etc. etc. and of the entire creation, is also the Creator of all of them.
From Science:
Gravitation Force is the cause of manifestation of the creation (birth of planets, stars), its sustenance and when it is withdrawn towards centre or source the entire creation ceases to exist. Photons have originated from gravitons. In black holes photons merge into gravitons. In Black Holes, Gravitational Force is so high that it does not allow even light to escape. What does it mean then? It simply means that the gravitational force at black-holes attracts light towards it with much greater velocity than the speed of light. In fact, all forces including electromagnetic force, material force (strong and weak nuclear force) all merge into gravitational force in black-holes and becomes one force there and when the creational process starts again from a Black-Hole all the forces appear (manifest) again and descends downwards to create billions of stars, planets, satellite, asteroids and various life forms.
Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation.
All cosmological researches should be conducted keeping in view of the following philosophical facts:
It has been stated in Bible (John I-1) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”
Mohammedans hold that God uttered ‘Kun’ (i.e. ‘Came into being’) and the creation came into being (Holy Quran, Sur. Bakr (II.117).
In Chhandogya Upanishad it is written “Tadaikshat bahu syam prajayeyeti” (VI-2-iii) i.e. “It thought (desired) Would that I were many! Let me procreate myself!” The Aitareya Upanishad says,”Sa ikshat ‘lokannusrija’ iti (I-1-i) i.e. “He bethought himself (desired) – ‘Let me create worlds’, etc. etc.
It is written in Chapter VII of Srimad Bhagavadgita : Sri Bhagwan said, “Arjun, now listen how with the mind attached to Me and practicing Yoga with absolute dependence on Me, you will know Me in entirety and without any shadow of doubt” (1). I shall unfold to you in its entirety this wisdom alongwith the Knowledge of the qualified aspect of God, having known which nothing else remains yet to be known in this world (2). Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and also ego; these constitute My nature eightfold divided. This indeed is My lower (material) nature : the other than this, by which the whole universe is sustained, know it to be My higher nature in the form of Jiva, O Arjuna. (4-5). Arjuna, know that all beings have evolved from this twofold Prakriti, and that I am the source of the entire creation, and into Me again it disappears.(6)
The Radhasoami Religion also tells that, the ‘Word’ mentioned above is in fact Current of Sound or Current of Consciousness or Prime Current of Spirituality which was issued forth from its Source, or Creator or God. This Current has later on produced light and other forces. The scientists are discussing these days about dark energy which constitute about 96% of the entire universe which is not known to us. Only 4% part of the universe is known to us by all scientific means. In fact this 96% invisible portion of the universe is the vast expanse of spirituality which can be designated as field of gravitational waves in scientific terms. Visible portion of the universe (4%) consists of consciousness (gravitational force), mental force (electromagnetic waves) and material force (strong and weak nuclear force).
Body = Nuclear Force (weak as well as strong)
Mind = Electromagnetic Force.
Consciousness = Gravitation Force.
According to Radhasoami Religion the whole Universe can be sub-divided into three grand divisions viz.
1. Region of Pure Spirituality
2. Region of Subtle Maya
3. Region of Gross Maya
Nuclear forces dominate Region of Gross Maya (Gross Material Region), Electro-magnetic forces dominate Region of Subtle Maya (Subtle Material Region) and Gravitational Force dominates Pure Spiritual Region.
This is the only Truth which can be verified scientifically and can be termed as ‘higher theory for everything’. This also supports the statement of Sir Sahabji Maharaj that ‘the goal of science – Truth; the goal of philosophy – Ultimate Reality; and the goal of religion – God’ are the three names of same supreme essence.
Many things are common between Current of Consciousness and Gravitational Wave.
1. Current of consciousness can not be seen by any means and gravitational wave can also not be seen.
2. Current of consciousness is the weakest force on earth. Its strength goes on increasing on higher regions. Gravitational force is also very weak on earth and strong on Sun and even more stronger on black holes.
3 Tendency of both current of consciousness and gravitational waves are towards their source or centre.
4. Current of consciousness and gravitational force are both regarded as the creater of all the celestial and terrestrial bodies of the whole universe. They are also sustainer of these and when they turn back towards their source or centre the whole universe will collapse.
Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
This theory is based on scientific deduction. In scientific terms it can be said that the ‘gravitons’ are the elementaryparticle which was issued forth in the beginning of the creation accompanying with sound ‘Radha’

4/09/2009 6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

In Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna says to Arjun:

“I taught this immortal Yoga to Vivasvan (sun-god), Vivasvan conveyed it to Manu (his son), and Manu imparted it to (his son) Iksvaku. Thus transmitted to succession from father to son, Arjun, this Yoga remained known to the Rajarisis (royal sages). It has however long since disappeared from this earth. The same ancient Yoga has this day been imparted to you by Me, because you are My devotee and friend, and also because this is a supreme secret”.

“In this world two course of Sadhna (spiritual discipline) have been enunciated by Me in the past. In the case of Sankhyayogi, the Sadhna proceeds along the path of Knowledge. Whereas in the case of Karmayogi, it proceeds along the path of Action”.

“The Yoga of Knowledge and the Yoga of Action both lead to Supreme Bliss. Of the two, however, the Yoga of Action (being easier to practice) is superior to the Yoga of Knowledge”.

Yoga of Knowledge is the path of spiritual realization (acquiring transcendental knowledge through a philosophical search of truth), and Yoga of Action is the path of God realization through dedicating fruits of one’s work to God. The path of meditation (Raja Yoga) and path of love and devotional service (Bhakti Yoga) also lead to control of mind and self-realization. For people of different constitution and affinities, different paths are appropriate.

Romila Thapar writes in A History of India, volume one :

Yoga (Application) which was based on the control of the body physically and implied that
a perfect control over the body and the senses led to knowledge of the ultimate reality. A detailed anatomical knowledge of the human body was necessary to the advancement of yoga and therefore those practicing yoga had to keep in touch with medical knowledge.

Now I have described Practice of Meditation and Yoga using scientific terminology: Mind and brain are two distinct things. Brain is anatomical entity whereas mind is functional entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system (ANS). It is claimed that mind can be brought under conscious control through the practice of meditation. But how? ANS is largely under hypothalamic control which is situated very close to optic chiasma (sixth chakra or ajna chakra). Protracted practice of concentration to meditate at this region brings functions of ANS say mind under one’s conscious control.

ANS is further divided into parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS). On the basis of these facts I have discovered a mathematical relationship for spiritual quotient (S.Q.). Spiritual Quotient can be expressed mathematically as the ratio of Parasympathetic dominance to Sympathetic dominance. PSNS dominates during meditative calm and SNS dominates during stress. In this formula we assign numerical values to the physiological parameters activated or suppressed during autonomic mobilization and put in the formula to describe the state of mind of an individual and also infer his/her level of consciousness.

Meditation is the art of looking within and science of doing nothing. We don’t use anything in meditation. We just try to concentrate to meditate at some point in human anatomy known as ‘chakra’ in Indian System of Yoga. The current of mind is flowing outward through the senses and unconsciously. The mind comes at rest gradually through regular practice of meditation. Then comes self realization and enlightenment. Protracted practice of meditation under qualified guidance will help to manage all sort of psychological problems.

Emotional Quotient can also be expressed mathematically as the product of I.Q. and Wisdom Factor. E.Q. stands for Emotional Quotient. An intelligent person may not be wise. But a wise man will always be intelligent. An intelligent person having certain level of positive emotions can be said as wise. An intelligent person lacking wisdom will turn autocrat. A wise man will always be a democrat who respects others existence.

Some may raise doubt that how could be the Wisdom quantified? The answer is simple -if Mental Age of I.Q. can be quantified then Wisdom can also be quantified, of course, comparatively with more efforts. Wilhelm Stern had given the formula of I.Q.. It is, Mental Age/ Chronological Age x 100. Spiritual Quotient (S.Q.) leverages both E.Q. and I.Q.

Radha Soami Faith is a branch of Religion of Saints like Kabir, Nanak, Paltu, and others. Soamiji Maharaj is the founder of this Faith. You may call It like Old Wine in New Bottle.

Maslow has given Hierarchy of Needs. At the top of it is need for self-actualization or self-realization.

In our society we should learn To Live and Let Live and help to satisfy others need. When the lower order needs, physiological and sociological both, are satisfied then only a person think to satisfy need for self-realization in true sense. Else he/she may spend all his/her life to satisfy at the most the need for self-expression instead of self-realization.

It is, therefore, the duty of every responsible person of our society to give serious thought over it.

For the satisfaction of need for self-realization i.e. establishment of harmony of individual consciousness with that of universal consciousness we need following three things:

1. Mater or Guru (A Self-Realized Soul)
2. Secret of Levels of Universal Consciousness
3. Method for traversing the path.

4/18/2009 6:52 AM  
Blogger Patrick S. O'Donnell said...


Please confine your comments to the subject matter of the post and do not use the comments section simply as a platform for views not related to the topic at hand, which concerns Jewish religion and philosophy.

4/18/2009 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

O.K. Please

4/24/2009 10:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home