Brian MasingaleJews and Other Germans
Taught by Dr. SchapkowDate
Jewish Self Hatred
On my honor, I affirm that I have neither given nor received inappropriate aid in the completion
of this exercise.
When we look at Jewish self-hatred, we need to look at a very prominent figure on the topic. That person is Otto Weininger, an intellectual thinker from the late 19th and early 20th century. This paper will attempt to answer why he took the stances he did in regard to Judaism, women, and himself. If Weininger denounced Judaism then why is he still brought up as a Jew modern times?
Known as an Austrian psychologist and philosopher. Otto Weininger was born on 3 April 1880 to a Jewish family of Vienna, the second child and oldest son of Adelheid Frey (18571912) and Leopold Weininger (18541922). Otto’s mother, whose health was in decline, was a compliant spouse to her husband, Leopold, an eminent goldsmith. Of his six siblings and sisters, just four reached adulthood. In the wake of moving on from high school in 1898, he enlisted in the philosophical faculty at the University of Vienna. There he took up studies in philosophy, biology, psychology, physics, and mathematics. Some of his Professors included Friedrich Jodl, Ernst Mach, and Richard von Krafft-Ebing. He frequently attended meetings of the college philosophical society. His companions recalled him as a dismal and genuine youth who despised the heavy drinker and lubricious quest for normal college understudies and spent his free hours talking about the most troublesome philosophical subjects. In 1900 he headed out to Paris with Hermann Swoboda to go to a gathering on psychology, where he sided with those in favor of an introspective approach to psychology as opposed to an experimental and biological approach.
He dismissed his unique positivistic view, and, was heavily influenced by, among others, Plato, Kant, St. Augustine, Neoplatonism, and Wagner. In 1900 Weininger’s companion Hermann Swoboda set out on analysis with Sigmund Freud (1856 1939), who disclosed to him that every single person in the world was part male and part female, or “androgynous.” Swoboda announced Freud’s perception to Weininger, who, interested by this thought, promptly chose to compose a monograph on sexuality. Sometime before the finish of his thesis, Weininger had turned out to be progressively engrossed with Kantian philosophy Jewishness,” “the woman question,” and the inadequacies of present day psychology.
He converted over to Protestantism the day he got his Ph.D. in 1902. A year later, he wrote of his most well-known pieces known as, Geschlecht und Charakter (1903; Sex and Character, 1906). Many of these arguments were connected with (or in response to) contemporary scientific and medical theories of sexuality and psychology. Weininger started writing Sex and Character in the fall of 1900, and the book advanced through a trade of thoughts with Swoboda. In 1901, subsequent to having enlisted the copyright to his original copy, he tried to distribute it, and considering this he demonstrated a framework to Freud, who was not impressed by the work. The book discussed a philosophical justification of male superiority, which expressed misogynistic and antisemitic views. After its distribution, Weininger experienced extreme emotional episodes of depression. In the late spring of 1902, he went to Northern Europe and, writing to his companion Arthur Gerber, asked, “Am I anything?” Weininger left for Italy in serious spirits. In Calabria on August 21, 1903, he drafted another will that replaced the one he had composed the past February 13. Returning home depressed, he spent five days at his parents home. On October 3 he shot himself through the heart in a rented room in the house in which Beethoven, his most loved artist, had died. He was buried in a Protestant cemetery; his father wrote the text for his gravestone. Leopold Weininger admired his son’s book and firmly defended Otto after his passing.
Soon after his death, his unpublished expositions and axioms showed up under the title Ueber die letzten Dinge. In 1990 Weiningers collected works and letters appeared under a title called Eros und Psyche (1990). In 1904, writings gathered by Weininger’s companion Moritz Rappaport were distributed. There Weininger’s suicide was clarified as an obvious end result to Sex and Character to guarantee its prosperity both with a huge general audience and among scholars. Surveys of Geschlecht und Charakter showed up in abundance, Weininger’s life was pored over by therapists, and his work was advocated by Vienna’s most contentious social critic, Karl Kraus. In spite of the fact that not a direct misogynist, Kraus emphatically supported Weininger’s perspectives about the sexuality of woman and shared his anxieties about the decadence of Western development.
Weininger’s theory is based on a basic connection among sex and character. Each person is a blend of male and female components. He considered Man to be the positive, gainful, coherent, calculated, moral, otherworldly power capable of genius, while Woman is the negative one, unequipped for any of these ideals. Woman is either intrigued absolutely in sexual intercourse (the Prostitute) or in procreation (the Mother). Therefore, the perfect Woman relies upon Man, on the Phallus, and her liberation, and also the otherworldly advancement of Man. His conclusions and opinions were taken up by Nazi thinkers as avocation for their views. After the war the demeanor towards Weininger’s work and figure moved from an ideological use of his thoughts towards a search for a comprehension of his work inside the framework of the humanities and social sciences.
Traditional v. Reform Judaism
Traditional and Reformed Judaism was becoming a definite battle in the 19th century. Both sides fighting over who is right. Many Jews started converting to Protestantism and many assimilated men and women considered conversion. As was the case for Weininger. The conflicting pressures on sensitive young men and women invariably caused much bitterness. Among some of the most privileged or gifted it produced a reaction later known as Jewish self-hatred.4 This was a direct response to the times; as things became more secular. Louis Friedmann, an industrialist, skier and alpinist vowed to remain single and childless so that the hated blood in his veins could not be passed on. These thoughts could have been mirrored by Weininger. Could this be clue as to why he was very misogynistic? Perhaps an excuse to put the blame on women because of anti-semitic rational?
Otto Weiningers definition and view of Judaism
The book Sex and Character outlines the details of Men, Women, Jews, and their place in civilization while also encompassing sexual themes. Weininger believed that Judaism was an idea, some sort of innate illness that laid itself in every persons soul. I must make clear what I mean by Judaism; I mean neither a race nor people nor a recognized creed. I think of it as a tendency of the mind, as a psychological constitution which is a possibility for all mankind. 4 Weininger has a hierarchy system in which he places men at the top, women in the middle and Jews at the very bottom. He points out that Jews have a predisposition in terms of property, which he makes a connection to them being or acting like a collective unit and not being individual, i.e. moveable property. He also highlights that the Jew is incapable of having a state and that the conception of a state is unattainable, due to the lack of individuality and lack of independent values for themselves and one another. He claims that the Jew fails in recognizing his or her own individuality and therefore not presenting respect to others. Weininger call this Jewish Arrogance. He says, it springs from want of true knowledge of himself and consequent overpowering need he feels to enhance his own personality by
deprecating that of his fellow creatures.4
Weininger continues on about the nature of the Jew as lacking in the individual sense. He does make a point to reach out and say that the goal of his argument is not to persecute the Jew, but that he is speaking on an affectionate level. He doesnt want to shun the Jews. His last point he makes is for the Jew to conquer the war inside himself, to defeat the condition within his own mind, only then can he truly be cured.
The role of women
It is obvious that Weininger thought very low of women and Jews. He makes numerous points defining their close resemblance to one another. It would not be difficult to make a case for the view that the Jew is more saturated with femininity than the Aryan, to such an extent that the most manly Jew is more feminine than the least manly Aryan. 4 He says the more he looks into feminine characteristics, he finds that many of those points reappear in the Jew. The conception of the state, which he touched on earlier, is also brought up in regard to women as well. He says that women also act as a collective whole instead on an individual level. Women have no dignity and they fail in all areas of kindness and respect, and that neither groups are noble. He articulates that when men change it is from within themselves and has true bounded meaning. When women change, it isnt real. Its not from within. Greatness is absent from the nature of the woman and the Jew, the greatness of morality or the greatness of evil. In the Aryan man, the good and bad principles of Kants religious philosophy are ever present, ever in strife.4 Weininger did not like what he saw in the world around him. All of the hate he had inside himself he externalized onto groups of individuals whom he thought were inferior.
Otto Weiningers internal view and self-denial
Next, we come to the question of how Otto Weininger viewed himself.
The explanation is simple. People love in others the qualities they would like to have but do not actually have in any greater degree, also we hate in others only what we do not wish to be. We hate only qualities to which we approximate, but which we realize first in other persons.4 This details the hatred that he has for himself. He is saying that he sees a lot of bad qualities in Jews, but while he sees these, it is only a reflection of what he sees inside himself. Could this book could have been a sort of confession or a suicide note linked with his death? Or is it mere coincidence that he killed himself? He outlines the ways to defeat Judaism within oneself and giving a call to action to do so. It is plausible that he still felt he was tainted with the idea of having Jewish characteristics.
One also has to think that there is a link to suicide and self-hatred. It only makes sense. It could be a possibility that the writings of anti-smites are just outreach, perhaps documenting a failure to change and offering a possible for a solution to the people (other self-deniers) that might work for them in order to help steer people away from Judaism. Michael Brenners text titled, The Renaissance of Jewish Culture in Weimar Germany makes some interesting points and arises a few more questions. Artur Landsbrger’s “tragic satire” Berlin ohne uden (Berlin without Jews, 1925). As both authors were to experience, their novels were neither utopian nor satiric. Bettauer was killed in his office in Vienna in 1925 by a German nationalist, and Landsberger committed suicide in 1933, when his literary scenario became reality (p.132)5. The end is usually not bright for these individuals, which make the point regarding self-hatred and suicide more evident. Brenner also talks about Isaac Deutscher and the ones he called the “non-Jewish Jew.” Individuals who were reminded of their Jewishness mainly because the outside world viewed them as Jews, not because they found any particular value in Jewishness (p.132)5. This may or may not have been a possibility for Weinniger. Nothing is on the record of him being rejected by the masses. However, that was then. When Nazis took up some of his work to use for their own propaganda/agenda, he was actually blacklisted for being a Jew, which was several decades after his passing.
This similarly happened to Wareamee-Warschauer, who was born in Germany to Jewish Parents. He too rejected his Jewish heritage but was failed to be seen as a German and an ultra-nationalist. He also converted to Christianity just like Weinniger did. However, Weinninger as far as what is known, was accepted in the community. It is interesting to note, that many others followed the same path that he did, (while not always ending in death). Many Jewish writers had contemporary novels of characters that denied their Jewishness. The fictional Dr. Trebitsch, depicted as a leader of a secret right-wing antisemitic organization, was modeled after Arthur Trebitsch, an Austrian Jew who considered himself a follower of Otto Weininger and who figured prominently in the development of the Austrian Nazi movement (p.133)5. Could this be how the writers feel? Maybe putting their thoughts and feelings into that of the characters? It is an interesting theory. This was done to secretly get out feelings. Instead of keeping everything bottled up inside. Testing the waters, so to speak.
Why does modern society still label Weinniger as a Jew even though he so heavily denounced it? I dont believe it is simply because he wrote about the topic. If we look at Judaism from a modern secular perspective, then we can see that Jews are confided to 3 groups. 1) Born into a Jewish family religion or not, 2) Having some sort of Jewish ancestral background, and 3) people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism. By default, this means he is technically a Jew. Converting doesnt mean much. Just because one doesnt believe in something, doesnt make it not true. An assumption can be made as to why the general public and scholars still tended to see Weinniger as a Jew. If he didnt believe himself to be a Jew, then why would he have denied to himself and the readers of not being one? He very clearly states in Sex and Character that he sees in himself reflections from the character of the Jew.
To reiterate a quote from earlier, The explanation is simple. People love in others the qualities they would like to have but do not actually have in any greater degree, also we hate in others only what we do not wish to be. We hate only qualities to which we approximate, but which we realize first in other persons. 4 I believe this to be the reason why Otto Weininger is still seen a Jew in the modern world. What he saw in the Jew is what he saw in himself. This is what sent him into his severe depression which led to his death. Knowing that he could truly not ever escape his identity.
It is apparent that Otto Weininger was a very deranged man whose writings were very telling of his character. He fought an ongoing battle of identity until the end of his life at the young age of 23. His goal was to change the minds of Jews and lead them on a path much like he was on. He was a believer in becoming great or doing nothing at all. His readings and papers would later be used to fuel the Nazi party and push anti-semitic views even further.