Let’s first clarify the relationship between the wisdom of Kabbalah and philosophy.
On the whole, philosophy studies what life is, what is its meaning, its purpose, and what man’s attitude to life and to nature is.
In one word, philosophy seems to encompass everything. At the same time it isn’t called a science, because it studies man and the human level of reality, in other words, the sphere that we cannot measure. There are no clear and accurate opinions here that can be accepted as facts.
In scientific methods, we study the still, vegetative, and animate nature, which are lower levels that man looks down upon from the height of the next evolutionary level. We can descend to them, perceive them, investigate, and understand them. This also applies to our body that belongs to the animate level of nature.
But we cannot study the “human” in us accurately. We try to classify different phenomena, responses, perceptions, thoughts, and inner desires scientifically, but we don’t succeed. Why? Because it is our own level, the same level, and I can only study what is below me.
This is the whole problem. It is common knowledge, although science actually started from man’s approach to himself and to life. It is no coincidence that degrees in all fields are called “Doctor of Philosophy” (PhD), although they have nothing to do with philosophy. The general approach to yourself and to reality is simply called “philosophy.”
This term is actually derived from the wisdom of Kabbalah. Here is what 16th century German humanist and linguist Johann Reuchlin, one of the greatest experts in ancient languages, a personal advisor to Emperor Maximillian I, and who maintained contact with the Platonic Academy says:
“My teacher Pythagoras, the father of philosophy, probably received his wisdom from the Jews and not from the Greeks, and he is the first who had translated the word “Kabbalah”, which was not familiar to people in his times, to the Greek word “philosophy.” Pythagoras’ philosophy stemmed from the infinite sea of Kabbalah… the wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t let us spend our lives in the dust, but raises our mind to the summit of knowledge.”
Philosophers would like to show that their field encompasses every aspect in life. By the way, until recently, in order to study Kabbalah at a university, one had to be accepted to the faculty of philosophy. People still assume that Kabbalah is part of philosophy, although the true philosophers themselves admit that it is not.
In any case, this is a different matter. The modern world disrespects philosophy and rightly so, since many study philosophy today only in order to get a degree. But when we speak about philosophy, we refer to a worldview, to a perception of life, a paradigm of some sort. Each of us is a philosopher internally. Accordingly, we have to understand, what about these approaches is important and what isn’t.
A person’s perspective, his attitude to life and to himself, is constantly changing, and eventually over this sphere rises the wisdom of Kabbalah, the opening of philosophy, just as it was discovered from other religions, after ages of concealment. This wisdom waited for humanity to grow and develop. In the beginning of history it generated sciences and philosophy, and today in times of global crisis, it is revealed again, after the religions and philosophy, by being the only approach a person has to life. The wisdom of Kabbalah includes all the perceptions and so eventually it replaces them.
From the 4th part the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/4/12, “Kabbalah and Philosophy”