What is the difference between study of מחשבה and השקפה? They both seem to mean perspective on the world...

  • 2
    Why do you assume that these are two definitive fields of study? Perhaps they are just terms people use loosely to refer to any thought- or perspective-oriented Torah ideas.
    – Chaim
    Apr 16, 2017 at 1:35
  • 2
    These are not formal terms. They are just Hebrew words that have recently become popular. Are you asking for their formal definitions, which don't exist, or for something else?
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 16, 2017 at 5:03
  • My understanding is that Hashkafah is on a more personal level and Machshavah is on a more global level. Related, but different.
    – DonielF
    Apr 16, 2017 at 5:14

2 Answers 2


First, literal translations: השקפה - outlook מחשבה - thought

In terms of fields of study, I think they both refer to the same topic, but with different connotations:

מחשבה carries implications of philosophy, of heavy texts like the Rambam's Guide of the Perplexed, or Rav Hutner's Pachad Yitzchaq, the Leshem's Seifer haKelalim (to include an example from Qabbalah), Rav Tzadoq's writings, the Maharal or the like. It is a deep an involved study, but somewhat cerebral.

השקפה is more experiential knowledge. Less how I think about the world in abstract study and more how I view the world as it happens to me. (As per the translations of the world.) It can be shallower but more poetic, more moving.

At least, that's how the words seem to be used in my neck of the woods.

  • I feel as though you're being מחלק between abstract and practical. Is that right? Apr 18, 2017 at 22:58
  • @MosheSteinberg: Only partly. Also cerebral vs experiential. Its the experiential aspect of hashkafah that makes it more connected to daily activity, like how we observe or think while observing. Apr 19, 2017 at 2:49

השקפה guides a person's מחשבה thus when used to refer to written works to be learned they are often used interchangeably in conversation because of how closely related the words are.

  • Can you elaborate, and provide sources? May 17, 2017 at 1:42

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