Hi Rabbi Rabbit, welcome,
I entered to your discussion list from the back door. I am not a
scientist or a philosopher, but a graduate student researching
Kabbalah, popularly known as Jewish mysticism.
We talk a lot about Plotinus in this list, and it is known that
Kabbalah is related to Platonism and neoplatonism, so this is almost a
Among the muslims, a similar role is played by the Sufi.
Augustin is also responsible for an influence of neoplatonism among
As others here, I knew about this site through "The Theory of
Everything". I landed on the this book through Borges' short story
"The Library of Babel". As some of you might know, this story is
packed with kabbalistic references.
Borges is very nice.
My research focuses now on Abraham Abulafia, a Sephardi kabbalist of
the 13th century. The reason why I am telling you all of this is that
Abulafia had a particular technique to achieve the mystical union
(otherwise called prophecy in Jewish sources) with the divine
Ah! The divine intellect is a typical (neo)platonist notion. It is
Plato's Noûs, and its rôle is played by the modal logic G* all along
this list. It is the canonical divine intellect that you can associate
to any self-referentially correct machine.
The (pegagogical) problem is that it assumes some background in
To make it short, Abulafia's technique consisted in the
mental combination of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Abulafia
envisioned this technique of letter combination as endless and only
limited by human capacity.
I claim that Abulafia's letter combination inspired Borges through the
groundbreaking work of Gershom Scholem, the pioneer of modern Kabbalah
scholarship. The Library of Babel is no other than the Library of
Abulafia gave detailed descriptions of his techniques but the ultimate
meaning of the letter combination remains elusive. In Abulafian
Kabbalah the concept of the "Name of God" is paramount. I would argue
that for him the Name of God was the total combination of the 22
letters. The Library of Babel would then spell the Name of God.
You may elaborate. Most mystics, including the introspective universal
machine, agree that God has simply no name at all.
The "little god" (the universal machine) has no definite name: each
time you give it a name or description it can change it (refute it)
and get other names (an infinity of names are then available). The
explosion of universal amchines and programming languages can be
related to this phenomenon.
A problem I have with Kabbalah, the Sufi and some other mystical is
that many forget the initial insight from numbers and develop many
"numerical superstition". This did already begin with Pythagoras.
Note also the connection between Mechanism and the Golem legend.
If we translate this religious jargon from the 13th century to our
language, Abulafia's letter combination is the verbal expression of
all possible universes. What about this as a definition for a holy
It is closer to the universal dovetailer, than to a many primitively
material universes. So I certainly do agree with you here.
But the universal dovetailing can be made terrestrial. Technically G*
is closer the the divine (not entirely accessible by machines)
discourse. At this stage, this may be considered as technical details.
But there has to be more to it. What do you think could be the
meanings of unlimited letter combinations? What insights could quantum
physics bring into kabbalistic interpretations?
In my opinion Quantum physics confirms directly the mechanist
platonist theory of mind, by showing that its most elementary
prediction (non locality and indeterminacy for the first person
experiences, for example(*)) to be confirmed (retrospectively) by
nature, and fully explained (without putting consciousness and qualia
under the rug). But the whole physical science does not address the
question, for methodological reason. We have to come back to some
serious theological science, in the spirit of Plato, Plotinus, etc.
(*) see the Universal Dovetailer Argument (in the list, or in my url
below, search the archive for UDA).
Let's tear down some discipline barriers!
That's necessary when working on the mind/body issue.
PD: And for those bluffed by the presence of a Kabbalah scholar here,
I recommend you to take a look to the story of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl
G. Jung as described in "Deciphering the Cosmic Number".
Hmm... remember that Pauli and Jung build their concept from the OLD
Quantum Mechanics. The old QM assumes that observation collapses the
wave function, transforming the "many universes" into a unique
universe. This prevents the use of quantum mechanics in cosmology, and
today, those a bit serious, I would say, on quantum mechanics have
dropped out the collapse axiom. An interesting part of Pauli's idea
remains correct at the phenomenological level, though. But the many
universes idea is mainly a consequence in QM of abandoning the idea
that the mind or the observer collapse the wave function. Now the many
universes or many dreams idea can also be derived just from the
digital mechanist hypothesis, once we understand enough of computer
science to realize that "mechanism" is not a reductionism: quite the
You may take a look on my paper on Plotinus to see the exact
correspondence between Plotinus' hypostases (including intelligible
matter and sensible matter) and the discourse of the universal machine
looking inward. Ask any question if you are interested. Such works
relies on mathematical logic and computer science. I can provide
references for serious study.
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