Knowledge Problems

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Brief History of God's Unknowability

Since this is not a scholarly review, I will not give an exhaustive history of the idea of the unknowable God. (Nor could I, since I am just learning most of this material for the first time myself.) The following brief sketch will therefore have to suffice. Also, I am not a student of medieval rationalism or kabbalism, so I hope that where I have gone astray in describing these movements, someone with greater knowledge and insight will be willing to correct me. (You know who you are.) Certainly, there are many other sources which may be consulted by the reader interested in a more thorough review of these issues altmann_73, seeskin_00. Also, it will be apparent that I am covering only the classical Jewish approaches to the issue, and neglecting even the most significant non-Jewish Western thinkers such as Aquinas, Scotus, or Avicenna. To attempt to survey both Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers in this short paper would be (for me) beyond futile. As it turns out, though, this is not the major deficiency that one might think, since the important Jewish philosophers were all heavily influenced by non-Jewish sources (and, in some cases, vice-versa), so most of the major extant ideas are expressed in one way or another by the various Jewish thinkers.


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