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История философии. Вып. 14. М.: ИФ РАН, 2009.





Konstantin Burmistrov. “He contracted Himself into Himself”: kabbalistic doctrine of self-withdrawal of God and its interpretations in European culture.

One of the most quaint and original concept of the Jewish mysticism – the concept of zimzum, or self-contraction of the Godhead – is discussed in the paper. This concept was elaborated by the kabbalists since the early stages of their tradition but it became a full-fledged doctrine owing to a new school of Kabbalah established in Safed in the late 16th century and named after its founder, Yitzhak Luria. A new terminology and a new and more complex symbolism are the outstanding features of the literature of this school. There was much originality in the ideas concerning the zimzum which preceded the whole process of emanation and divine revelation. The main originality of this Lurianic doctrine lay in the notion that the first act of the Absolute God (Ein-Sof) was not one of revelation and emanation, but, on the contrary, was one of concealment and limitation. The symbols employed here indicate an extremely naturalistic point of departure for understanding the beginning of creation and their very audacity made them highly problematic.

The starting point of this theory is the idea that the very essence of Ein-Sof leaves no space whatsoever for creation, for it is impossible to imagine an area which is not already God, since this would constitute a limitation of His infinity. Consequently, an act of creation is possible only through “the entry of God into Himself,” that is, through an act of zimzum whereby He contracts Himself and so makes it possible for something which is not Ein-Sof to exist. Some part of the Godhead, therefore, retreats and leaves room, so to speak, for the creative processes to come into play. Such a retreat must precede any emanation.

This process works through the double beat of the alternately expanding movement of Ein-Sof and its desire to return to itself, hitpashtut ("egression") and histalkut ("regression"). Every movement of regression toward the source has something of a new zimzum about it. This double-facedness in the process of emanation is typical of the dialectical tendency of Lurianic Kabbalah.

From the 17th century onward kabbalistic opinion was divided on the doctrine of zimzum. Was it to be taken literally? Or was it to be understood symbolically as an occurrence in the depths of the Divine, which the human mind could only describe in figurative language? The question was a bone of contention in the many arguments that took place between the kabbalists and the more philosophically inclined thinkers who found kabbalistic speculation distasteful. So, there were different interpretations of zimzum from literal and mythological (mytho-poeic) to the philosophical.

The concept of zimzum was enthusiastically accepted and adopted by some European theologians and philosophers of the 17th-19th centuries like Ch. Knorr von Rosenroth, F.Oetinger, F.J. Molitor. This idea was in fact very close to views that developed in modern idealist philosophy, first of all that of Schelling who developed his own Christianized version of self-contraction or self-withdrawal (Selbsteinschränkung) of God before and for the sake of Creation. In its turn, Shelling’s views influenced much the outlook of the famous Jewish scholar Gershom Scholem who considered zimzum the most important kabbalistic concept having deep philosophical implications.

Therefore the concept of zimzum and its development in Jewish and European thought of the last four centuries represents a phenomenon unique for the history of Jewish-Christian intellectual relations. The Jewish mystical doctrine was appreciated by some Christian thinkers as an idea which turned out to be important for enrichment and implementation of their own tradition.


Lukashev A.A.The existence - non-existence correspondence in the philosophical poem by Makhmud Shabistari “Gulshan-i Raz” (The Secret Rose Garden). The existence-nonexistence relations problem is the central concept in the Sufi ontology. The poem “The Secret Rose Garden” by Makhmud Shabistari like the most of the Sufi philosophy masterpieces describes the ontology problematic in the same terms. The Universe divides on the Absolute existence and relative existence, that correspond with the world and the ‘ayan thabita (objects of the empiric world, present in God and not-different among each other). It’s relativity appears in the ambivalence of the existence and non-existence. Each of them can correspond with the world and the ‘ayan thabita. Absolute Being unites the system incorporating the whole universe. This ontology system was natural for the Iranian Sufism and nontrivial for the Arabic one, so the research opens the perspectives for the comparative studies.


Stanislav Rykov. The Problem of Methodological Foundations of Ancient Chinese Philosophy in Modern Sinology. The problem of methodology of ancient Chinese philosophy is the large complex of issues on investigating and establishing of the mechanisms of search, collation, interpretation and application of the philosophical knowledge in classical Chinese thought. The present paper makes a humble attempt to describe some main landmarks of history of it’s studying in modern Western and Russian sinology.

The author first gives a brief review of earlier conceptions, and then presents a more detailed account on the recent and the most influential theories of the two modern Russian scholars – A. Kobzev and A. Krushinsky proper.


Maria Rubez. The influence of language on Chinese culture and thought. The paper considers the problem of the connection between language and thought mostly from the perspective of how language influences thought and cultural phenomena.

The research is based on the conception of cerebral asymmetry and the fact that Mandarin as opposed to many other languages is predominantly lateralized in the right hemisphere. This leads to the question of the language reform in China and possible romanization of Chinese language.

The author presents examples demonstrating the influence of Mandarin on Chinese culture and shows how the language reform changes this connection between people and the language they speak.


Ilshat Nasyrov. “Al-Gazali. Man heart, rational and religion cognition and cause of human limited nature of the "Knowledge of God" (ma‘rifa)”. The article is an attempt to present the ontological and gnoseological views of Abu Hamid al-Gazali, an outstanding islamic jurist, theologian and Sufic thinker (1058 – 1111). The Introduction discusses the fundamental concepts of his integral theological and philosophical system, such as unity of being, which is of an Ash’arite character, as well as the conception of “three world’s”; al-Gazali’s concept of ‘aql (reason) and his doctrine of cognition of the transcendental, or “knowledge of God” (ma‘rifa). The author attempted to prove that the study of al-Gazali’s point of view on the topic of ‘aql (reason) is helpful in clarifying the model of the speculative thinking, which was prevalent in medieval Islamic world. 

In the second chapter the Russian reader will find commented translation some excerpts from the different parts of Ihya’ ‘ulum ad-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) by Abu Hamid al-Gazali, made by I. Nasyrov. This al-Gazali’s main fundamental work contains all of his major philosophical ideas. His attempt to solve the irresolvable question of how it is possible to know the uncognisable God presents essential facet of problem of rational cognition of the transcedental. Al-Gazali leads the reader to the idea that the theorizing mind is incapable of solving metaphysical problems (relating to God etc.), for all those things are objects of faith; therefore rational and scholarly knowledge cannot form the foundation for proving God’s existence. His mystical doctrine of the “heart” was oriented toward the restoration of the primordial unity of man and God. He strove to comprehend the secret of relation between God and created world.


Victoria Lysenko. Perception (Pratyaksha). “Nyaya-bindu” of Dharmakirti with Dharmottara’s “Tika”. A new translation into Russian of the Chapter on Perception from the famous epistemological Sanskrit text of the great Buddhist philosopher Dharmakirti (600–660) “Nyaya-bindu” with the commentary “Tika” of Dharmottara (740-800) presents an attempt to bridge a gap between “literal” and “philosophical” translation of Th. Stcherbatsky in his “Theory of Knowledge and Logic in the Doctrines of the Late Buddhists” (Part One. Manual of Logic of Dharmakirti with Dharmottara’s Elucidations. St.Petersbourg, 1904) . Translation and Notes by Victoria Lysenko


Nataliya Kanaeva. “Vinaya Vijaya Maharaja. ‘Nayakarnikā’”. The publication contains the translation of jaina treatise (1651) on important epistemological conception – naya-vāda (the conception of ‘standpoints’) and preliminary notes. Naya-vāda was explored by jainas as a part of their theory of many-sidedness (anekānta-vāda) for destroying of all ‘one-sided’ philosophical systems of their opponents and for obtaining the Absolute Wisdom.