Academic Year 2011-2012
Guadalupe González Diéguez
Guadalupe González Diéguez is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies (New York University). She undertook undergraduate studies in Spain (Universidad Complutense) and France (Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis), holding B.A.s in Philosophy and Hebrew Philology from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She holds a DEA (post-graduate degree) in History of Philosophy from Universidad Complutense. In 2004-2006 she came to the USA as a Fulbright Scholar and completed a masters in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU. Since 2006 she has been a Ph.D. Student at NYU’s Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, where she is currently writing her dissertation under the direction of Professor Elliot R. Wolfson. She also specializes in the translation of philosophical texts into Spanish, including works by Spinoza, Benjamin and Althusser. She was recently awarded a fellowship to participate in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Seminar on Translation at NYU in Summer 2011. Her major fields of interest are Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism, and the thought of Spinoza.
Isaac ibn Latif (1210-1280) Between Philosophy and Kabbalah. Timeless and Timebound Wisdom
My research focuses on a rather neglected chapter of the history of Medieval Jewish thought: the intersection between religious mysticism and political philosophy. Muslim and Jewish Medieval political philosophy brings to the fore the “theologico-political problem” (L. Strauss), having to deal with a political community organized around a God-given law which does not allow for the self-sufficiency and autonomy of the political realm in the Aristotelian manner. In my research I intend to elucidate commonalities and differences in the attitudes of philosophers and kabbalists towards this law that defines the community.
Rationalist philosophers, who have access to true, apodictic science, overcome religious law from without, from the vantage point of science. Religious law is, for them, limited to the edification and moral improvement of the common people. Kabbalists, often as innovative and elitist as philosophers regarding religious law, overcome it in a very different way. In spite of, or, better expressed, precisely because of their conservative and traditionalist attitude, kabbalists overcome the religious law from within, according to a hypernomian scheme of intensification (E. Wolfson).
In this context, it is relevant to examine kabbalistic takes on topics like esoteric strategies in Bible exegesis, conceptions of time, history, different forms of political regimes, the end of days, and the role of law in the Messianic Age. In my dissertation, I trace these topics in the writings of Isaac ibn Latif, Neoplatonic philosopher and kabbalist who worked in the multicultural setting of 13th century Toledo. Close reader of Maimonides, and author of Kabbalistic works, Latif is also, regarding the reception of the tradition of classical political philosophy, the first translator into Hebrew of parts of Al-Farabi’s Opinions of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City, foundational work of Islamic political philosophy.