David Birnbaum Philosopher


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Tikkun Olam & David Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica

February 6, 2015

Tikkun Olam is an ancient Jewish concept with contemporary applications. Roughly translated, it means “Repair the World.” In the Jewish faith, there is a mainstream belief that one should strive towards harmony, acts of kindness and the betterment of mankind; this is what Tikkun Olam represents. A central underpinning is that society succeeds or fails as a whole.

The concept gained particular traction in Jewish mystical tradition, particularly within Kabbalah (primarily in 16th century in Ottoman Palestine). Contemporay metaphysicist David Birnbaum of Manhattan – Yeshiva and Harvard educated, independent scholar and philosopher – draws heavily on this concept in his own philosophical and cosmological masterwork, Summa Metaphysica (1988, 2005, 2014). See Philosophy1000.com.

Per Birnbaum, the cosmos is on an inexorable quest for greater and greater perfection on multiple fronts. Birnbaum’s hypothesized cosmic Infinite Quest for Potential inexorably drives the cosmos towards an ever-higher spiritual potentiality. It is one of mankind’s tasks to aid & abet this sublime quest. This inexorable quest towards ultimate perfection/sublime directly parallels the Kabbalistic quest for Cosmic Repair. See FirstSummaReviews.com.

Birnbaum’s work regarding his theory of the Infinite Quest for Potential is arguably a modern-day interpretation of Tikkun Olam. More accurately, while there is much more to this Potentialism Theory, it most certainly incorporates concepts of Tikkun Olam. Quest for Potential is, after all, a proposed overarching dynamic and a unifying theory of science, spirituality and philosophy. See ModernKabbalah1000.com).

Tikkun Olam in Potentialism

The unfolding of the Quest for Potential as the overarching and all-pervading Cosmic Dynamic, may indeed encompass the effect of Tikkun Olam. Why? Birnbaum himself states the simple mantra:

We are all in this together.
We all rise or fall together.
Our societal goal is to reach our potential, cumulatively, as well.
We are all connected.
The advance of one, is the advance of all.

These words are of little surprise to those who study Potentialism. Potentialism is a cosmological theory based on the connectedness of both humanity and the universe as a whole. Many sciences are based on multiple disciplines and theories. Quantum physics, Newtonian physics, particle physics…. the list may seem endless, each governed with its own particulars laws. Likewise, in understanding the world, the physical sciences are far from the sole contenders for knowledge.

Science may dismiss pure philosophy, spirituality or religion. Yet, undeniably, there are intangible, yet no less true, phenomena contained within our universe. One may not be able to touch a concept such as morality or love, yet these concepts impact the physical world daily. And that is one of the hidden strengths of Potentialism – it can acknowledge and qualify what cannot be measured by classic physical science.

Moreover, Potentialism can make a place for and explain the Tikkun Olam concept and its importance in the world. See SummaKabbalah.com.

A common destiny

As noted, Birnbaum is the author of the (quite readable) 3-part treatise Summa Metaphysica. The series examines Infinite Quest for Potential through three separate lenses; it looks at Infinite Quest for Potential through the respective perspectives of religious man, spiritual man and secular man.

While science sees humanity and the world at large in a purely Darwinian contest for supremacy, Potentialism (like Tikkun Olam) shows us the interconnectedness of the universe and creation. Birnbaum elucidates how the veil between the spiritual and the physical is largely illusory – a surface boundary that must be seen through to fully understanding the nature of the cosmos.

Central to Potentialism is the shared, common destiny of humanity and the universe itself. Humanity is ever striving forward towards greater degrees of complexity – as well in thought, form, spirituality and morality. The universe, according to Birnbaum, inexorably strives for ever-increasing levels of sophistication and perfection.

Evolution is not so much a gladiatorial arena for DNA to battle within, but a common pursuit of the race as a whole. Like the rest of the universe, the human race must be viewed in its proper context, as a connected whole with a shared fate. See Evolution1000.com.

A secular proof

This connectedness is the heart of Tikkun Olam as well. To the Jewish faith, bringing the world more perfectly in line with God is a sacred endeavor. It honors God to strive to make the world as He has envisioned and commanded. To accomplish this, the faithful must live by God’s rules of charity and justice. It is not enough to live well and properly on one’s own. Instead, the faithful must strive to lift-up the entire tide – to raise all ships.

Potentialism stands as a secular proof of the soundness of Tikkun Olam. Where Tikkun Olam only justifies its “rightness” in terms of religion and spirituality, Potentialism actually explains the soundness of this theory in cosmological and metaphysical terms. In short, Potentialism provides a scientific basis that Tikkun Olam is a means of universal evolution which has been driving the cosmos towards ever greater complexification (shorthand: C+) since the beginning of the universe itself.

Potentialism sets as one of its loftiest and most audacious goals that of unifying the religious, secular and philosophic. The immersion, within its doctrine, of Tikkun Olam stands as just one example of how it has fulfilled that goal. See Lurianic1000.com.

Where once we could only say “be kind to your neighbor” because it was a religious observance or a philosophically superior position in regards to ethics – Potentialism actually provides the unifying secular reason for such deeds. We are good to our neighbor because it is part of the cosmic order and helps grow the universe around us as intended. See Unifying1000.com.

As Birnbaum promised a unification of these concepts, there is a simple answer to the question of “Why repair the world?” that can be answered to the religious, philosophical and secular in turn:

Religious: It is God’s will that we do so, and it is moral that we do so.

Philosophical: Morality is the highest expression of human intellect and abstract thought; caring for our world and the people in it is how we do so. The spiritual underpinning of our universe – Infinite Quest for Potential – mandates an overarching morality in our daily lives.

Secular: It is the nature of the universe to evolve and advance; the mutually supportive aspect of the interactivity of humanity is an integral component of universal advance; morality and giving-ness are integral to high-level cosmic advance.

See also: xGlobal1000.com





The Tao of Potentialism:

Yin & Yang Meets Western Cosmology

In a time when Western Europe was still dotted with primitive tribes, the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) ruled over a nation of approximately 60 million people – a fourth of the world’s population. And while European tribes made pottery and wrestled with the secrets of bronze, the Chinese refined steel and had invented the compass, gunpowder and printing. But perhaps most importantly, while Europe feared the night and the unknown, the Chinese were quite-diligently and actively exploring the secrets of the very heart of the cosmos.

At the center of Chinese philosophy is Taoism, based on the harmony of Yin and Yang.

To Taoists:

Yin represents the feminine – soft, yielding, alluring, drawing-in, passive, the moon, shadow

Yang represents the masculine – hard, solid, aggressive, driving-forward, the sun, light

It is vitally important to understand that Taoists consider neither of these forces superior; rather they are complementary, equally powerful forces. Further, Taoists believe that the unity of these two forces is what creates the universe around us. When these forces meet, they are what spawn the energy of creation.

Together they form the Tao – the “way” or “path”. Tao is both the source and drive behind all that exists. To the Taoist, Tao itself is not a describable force, but fundamentally ultimately indescribable. The great philosopher Laozi once said, “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”

Millennia after Laozi comes a new philosopher, metaphysicist and cosmologist: David Birnbaum (see www.ExaminerPurpose.com). In 1988, Birnbaum set out to introduce and articulate his novel – and indeed revolutionary – theory of cosmology – Potentialism. Realized originally in his book, Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man (Ktav, 1988), and continued in Summa Metaphysica II: Spiritual Man & Summa Metaphysica III: Secular Man (New Paradigm Matrix, 2005 and 2014 respectively) – Birnbaum would trump Laozi, first pegging-off of his core concepts, and then wrapping-around them in an extraordinary creative finesse (see www.PotentialismTheory.com).

At the core of Birnbaum’s breathtaking metaphysics, neo-male Quest for Potential (achievement-oriented) seeks after neo-female Extraordinariation (fulfillment-oriented). Birnbaum choreographs the two dynamics as engaged in a cosmic tango spiraling towards infinity. Extraordinariation beckons; Potentialism thrusts (see TheoryCore.com).

During the last half of the 20th century, academic science had managed to simultaneously make itself the enemy of classic philosophy, classic religion and spirituality in-general. Western science, in its search for the truth of the cosmos, has been led by great, revolutionary scientists who, nevertheless, had turned their backs on much of the ancient teachings and work of the past. And, much like what transpired in the Dark Ages, in-the-process of discarding the past, we have lost essential truths. These eternal truths help us understand the universe in all its infinite (and scientific) wonder. The rigid atheism of 20th Century science blinded scientists to aspects of the universe that we not only can feel, but which we need – to be whole, balanced human beings. We need to discern these cosmic aspects in order to seriously take-a-stab at the ultimate secrets of the cosmos.

Birnbaum (see DavidBio1000.com) simultaneously picks up both where modern science left off and where Toaism left off. Birnbaum explains not only the scientific world but the spiritual world in his comprehensive 3-volume Potentialism treatise. The theory harnesses the infinite power of creation and the spiritual as well as the physical power of physics and math. Potentialism discerns and delineates the one great metaphysical driver of the universe – the Infinite Quest for Potential.

The Infinite Quest for Potential, articulates Birnbaum, is the permeating force and driver of the universe. Indeed the possibilities-to-come of the universe are de facto embedded within the dynamic. The same Infinite Quest for Potential has given birth to light, matter, energy, humanity – along with humanity’s higher consciousness and range of emotion. Driven by this Infinite Quest for Potential, the universe itself drives ever-forward and unstoppably-onward towards greater complexity and sophistication, towards its own Extraordinariation (see Extraordinariation.com).

To scientists of the last century, our universe has been a cold, random place – destined only to decay and die. To David Birnbaum, on the other side of the cosmology debate, the cosmos is alive, vibrant, organic and growing; our universe is becoming more bountiful every day as it seeks out the extraordinary in its existence; our universe is both now-oriented and future-potential-oriented; and, finally, humanity is one of its crowning achievements.

It’s become a fashionable habit that we talk cold science during the week, and reserve spirituality for Saturday/Sunday prayer. We are de facto primed by Western society to hide the callings of our soul for something greater, for some ultimate meaning to existence. Birnbaum shatters these artificial barriers. He has stepped forward to champion an overarching metaphysical drive – and, this time, with science at his side – an ally, not an enemy. Birnbaum gifts us his 21st century Tao of Infinite Potential.

Via his 3-volume treatise, Birnbaum articulates how his Theory of Potential can be viewed through
either a Religious, Spiritual or Secular prism. The work has been used as a Course Text at over a dozen institutions of higher learning globally – from UCLA on the West Coast to Brandeis on the East Coast. Bard College (college motto: A Place to Think) hosted a landmark 4-day international academic conference focused on the work; in the past 12 months alone over 50 feature articles in over 2 dozen journals have focused on Birnbaum’s ‘game-changer’ Potentialism Theory (see www.SummaCoverage.com).

While a 21st century construct, David Birnbaum’s modus operandi is directly in the spirit and tradition of the great Greek philosophers, as well. He discerns universal concepts – simple but powerful – and then layers-them across a grand and unified philosophical construct (see ParadigmChallenge.com). He makes no apologies to the entrenched status quo.

The Randomness/Atheist construct of the 20th century gave legitimacy to a narrow 1% of the world’s ideologies – and actively de-legitimized the remaining 99%. Yeshiva-educated and Harvard-educated, universalist intellectual revolutionary Birnbaum has successfully supplanted the randomness/Atheist zealots; Birnbaum’s elegant and powerful Theory of Potential gives authenticity to the ideologies of 99% of our planet’s denizens. His Summa Metaphysica – a post-modern Tao – stands at the pinnacle (see SummaMetaphysica.com).





Physicist Tegmark v. Metaphysicist Birnbaum


MUH: Physicist Tegmark’s ‘MUH hypothesis’ (2014) – the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis which posits that mathematics is the supreme determinant /matrix of the cosmic order.

Potentialism: David Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential via his 3-part work Summa Metaphysica (1988, 2005, 2014) – which posits that (his hypothesized) Infinite Quest for Potential dynamic is the supreme determinant and overarching dynamic of the cosmic order – with mathematics in a (crucial albeit) subordinate role (see www.SummaMetaphysica.com).

In his 2014 work, Our Mathematical Universe (Knopf), MIT physicist Max Tegmark posited that the universe is ruled by MUH. As a proposed Theory of Everything, Tegmark has stated that his MUH defines the entire universe in terms of a mathematical expression.

Wrapping-around Tegmark – even before Tegmark crafted his MUH theory – is David Birnbaum of Manhattan, independent scholar, metaphysicist and conceptual theorist. While to Tegmark (2014) the universe is ruled entirely by mathematics, to Birnbaum (1988) the universe is ruled by the abstract force of Infinite Potential – and Physics-Math acts as a vehicle for Potential to reach its cosmic ends of maximum expression of Potential. To be clear, Birnbaum’s position is not a denial of a pervasive Physics-Math nature of the universe; rather, it is a matter of emphasis and core centrality; put another way, it is a matter of causation: Is Physics-Math ‘master’ or ‘slave’?

There are several fundamental problems with Tegmark’s MUH as overarching and self-contained. Firstly, a universal drive must, by definition, be eternal. This is simply not true of MUH. It’s commonly held knowledge that the mathematical structure of physics-math breaks down when approaching Planck values – the pre-Big Bang state of the universe itself. To call MUH a universal drive is to necessarily ignore the paradox that the drive could not exist at the beginning of the universe itself.

Potential, by contrast, has no such problems. Unlike the static, inflexible MUH – Potential is dynamic; it is an infinite and inexorable drive towards ever-greater-and-greater Potential. By definition potential/possibility is eternal – and future-oriented. Whether or not Physics-Math – as we know it today – is eternal is debatable, but Physics-Math is missing the future-orientation and drive of Infinite Potential (see www.ParadigmChallenge.com).

The second issue with MUH is even more glaring. Tegmark’s theory simply cannot account for the existence and extent of the universe’s extraordinary and rich complexity. To quote Birnbaum, “How does one get from a geometric triangle to a love triangle?” It may be a tongue in cheek question on Birnbaum’s part, but the truth is clear. Mathematics might work nicely to describe physical complexity, but it fails utterly to explain large parts of existence – thought, art, beauty, morality, love, jealousy, treachery, to name just a few. Again, while mathematics in isolation fails, Potentialism does not. Potentialism (aided and abetted by Physics-Math) explains abstract concepts as readily as it explains the physical universe; all complexity in the universe is explained cleanly by the one central Birnbaumian concept – Infinite Potential inexorably seeking-after its own infinite potential.

That being said, Tegmark’s work does serve a very crucial purpose. His work astutely describes the mathematical principles governing the physical universe. While Tegmark may overstate the core fundamentality of mathematics, his MUH – as a matrix pervading the universe – does give a powerful, perspective of the underlying physical aspects of the world. Certainly, MUH goes far beyond (outdated, 20th century) Randomness Theory in expressing the holistic/integrated nature of the physical universe.

Perhaps it is best to think of Tegmark’s work not as ‘incomplete’, but rather as ‘crucial and auxiliary’ – to Potentialism; meaning, that Tegmark’s MUH is a mathematical description of the current underlying matrix of the universe (note a convergence with Spinoza here). Tegmark’s MUH is a crucial key auxiliary component of the eternal, key and core universal dynamic of Birnbaum’s Infinite Potential. Birnbaum’s fuller term for his dynamic is Quest for Potential∞ (shorthand: Q4P) – the crucial ‘cosmic igniter and driver’ component that Tegmark’s theory is missing.

The core component of Birnbaum’s Potentialism is that at eternal origins infinite Quest for Potential telescoping forward infinitely harnessed the eternal components of Physics-Math to ignite the cosmic order; thus, to Birnbaum, Physics-Math is key but not the so to speak ‘Prime Mover.’ While Tegmark sees MUH as the master of the cosmos, in reality per Birnbaum’s overarching metaphysics, mathematics is only a ‘slave’, albeit a pre-eminent and quite-awesome slave, of Potentialism’s universal Infinite Potential (see www.SummaCoverage.com).