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Monday, 9 Jul 2018

Weininger Sex and Character on Dr John Dunn. Man is alone in the world, in tremendous eternal isolation. He has no object outside himself; lives for nothing else; he is far removed from being the slave of his wishes, of his abilities, of his necessities; he stands far above social ethics; he is alone. Thus he becomes one and all. (Otto Weininger)

Simplistic accusations of racism and sexism completely miss the universal application of Otto Weininger’s work.

The conditions of modernity, one might say fully developed capitalism, consigned all individuals, man and woman, Jew and non-Jew, to a state of heteronomy, loss of autonomy and individual creativity.

What was Weininger getting at?

If creativity is the defining characteristic of being human, as for example Dante believed, then the Weinigerian point is that individuals have been dehumanised under modern conditions.

Just as the Jew is subject to Jehovah and woman to man, to whom or what is the modern individual subject? Thinking in Weininger’s terms, the list could be extensive: the Judaisms - Christic, Messianic and Islamic - the state, market, Darwinist, evolutionist, economist, mammonist, Marxist, educationalist, psychologist, Freudian, freemason and so on...

Again in Weininger’s terms, what do we the ‘effeminate Jews’ each face in common? The answer is puppethood before the demiurge, passivity, denial of the will. Just as we are clinicised through modern medicine’s expropriation of the ability to self-assess wellbeing, we are shaped by the imposition of universal control through conscripted schooling.

To what then have we lost the self? In Weininger’s terms, to a long list of 'Judaisms', essentially concepts that consign the individual to a state of heteronomy and a loss of autonomy. These are the anti-human forces ranged against the masculine principle of Swayambhu, that would quench the vivifying sun and its ancient swastika symbol.

Weininger and Dora Marsden pursued their nineteenth century inheritance; Marx and Wagner yes, but also Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, von Hartmann, Ibsen and Strinberg. It was however Weininger who transformed the opposition of the sexes into a Zarathustrian cosmic vision, dividing humanity into two races, two cultures, two completely unconnected fates.

Why did Nietzsche choose Zarathustra to be the voice of his great work of social commentary and philosophy? Nietzsche’s answer was that ‘Zarathustra had been the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things’.

Weininger elaborated the Nietzschean bifurcation. By fusing Judaism and feminism Weininger opposed man, or manhood, or humanness to the implacable spiritual foe and sexual nemesis.

The implacable foe within too: Weininger ‘diagnosed’, in a very Freudian manner, that the racism and misogyny in Sex and Character were the sub-conscious and projected self-hatreds of everyman.

© John Dunn.

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