Moshe Idel on the Ars Combinatoria

February 18, 2011

Professor Moshe Idel, Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought Emeritus at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a leading authority on the history and historiography of Jewish mysticism, gave a CEMS lecture on ‘The Transition of Ars Combinatoria from Kabbalah to European Culture: Ramon Llull, Pseudo-Llull, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’ (10 February). This was one of a series of visiting lectures, on the influence of the mystical treatise the Sefer Yetzirah from the medieval period through to Derrida and Eco. Professor Idel showed how Pico’s knowledge of the Kabbalah, gained through commissioning Latin translations of works by Abraham Abulafia and others, allowed him to grasp connections with Ramon Llull’s ars combinatoria. The lecture ended by tracing links through to Leibniz’s use of combinatory techniques.

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