The key difference between Kabbalah and philosophy is that philosophy engages in abstract matter, while the wisdom of Kabbalah deals solely with form clothed in matter. Hence, philosophy is detached from reality, while Kabbalah is tied to it as is any other science.
However, while the regular sciences study reality perceived in the egoistic desire, Kabbalah explores reality sensed in the altruistic desire. Reality is perceived in the very same desire to receive pleasure, yet in the first case, desire “wants” to enjoy for “its own sake,” while in the other it is “for the sake of bestowal.”
This desire has two forms of existence. Science that studies the behavior of the desire which strives to absorb and receive everything into itself is called material, natural science. “Material” means that it acts with the egoistic intention.
Science that studies the actions of the desire to receive pleasure which aspires for bestowal is called Kabbalah. This form of existence of matter is absent in our world; it can only be found in the upper worlds.
Hence, it is clear that the wisdom of Kabbalah is opposite to the material sciences for it explores the opposite behavior of matter, which makes all of their laws and principles cardinally different. Yet, they both use the same scientific approach of relying only on obvious facts.
Accordingly, as the materialistic science studies the levels of egoistic matter, which exist in this world, so does Kabbalah use the same realistic, scientific approach to examine the existence of spiritual matter at the still, vegetative, animate, and human levels of nature, which act in bestowal in the spiritual world.
But the study method can be either scientific or religious, which is based on faith. And if so, it is religion, not science. Accordingly, if this non-scientific approach based on pure faith is applied in our world, it turns into “philosophy.”
To summarize, matter could work either 1) for its own sake, or 2) for the sake of others. In both cases (either in the upper world or in our world) a scientific method can be applied, meaning the method that relies on experience, reason, obvious facts, and the study of form clothed in matter. In addition, another approach can be used in both areas, which studies abstract form: philosophy and religion.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/2/2011, “The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy”