Wittgenstein on Weininger's Sex and Character.
In a letter to G.E. Moore, Wittgenstein remarked that “he was fantastic, but he was great and fantastic,” going on to assert that “roughly speaking, if you just add a‘~’ to the whole book it says an important truth.”
Karl Marx succinctly posed the crucial problems of modern knowledge in his Theses on Feuerbach, and in the Feuerbach section of The German Ideology. The ‘dirty-judaical’ quality of the object of contemplation must be superseded by that view which recognises the ephemeral quality of the particularity, and which locates actual human knowledge in a self-advancing body of revolutionary social practice.
Judaic was a metaphor for a sensibility that focused on the particularity rather than the future cosmic progress of mankind.
Practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity. (Marx, Theses on Feurerbach)The ‘mundane principles’ supersede the higher principles.
What are the mundane principles of Judaism? Practical necessity and the pursuit of one’s own advantage. What is its earthly god? Money. The Jew has emancipated himself in a typically Jewish fashion not only in that he has taken control of the power of money, but also in that through him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the spirit of the Christian people. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. The god of the Jews has become secularised and has become the god of the earth. The exchange is the true god of the Jews. (Marx, The Jewish Question)By implying that we had all become Jews, what did Marx mean by that?
Otto Weininger elaborated. He desperately wrestled with himself and his race, expressing his fear of the agnostic, destructive power of being Jewish.
The spirit of modernity is Jewish, no matter how one looks at it....Women and Jews are pimps, it is their goal to make man guilty. Our era is not only the most Jewish, it is also the most feminine of eras... the age that...no longer has a single great artist, a single great philospher, the age of the least originality and the biggest hunt for originality. (Otto Weininger, Sex and Character)Weininger critisiced modern art as 'Jewish art' and based many of his theories on Wagner's The Jews and Music.
So to Marx, Wagner and Weininger, cultural modernity was Jewish and feminine
That this was the universalised state of modern times and not co-extensive either Jews or women, was insightfully recognised by the individualist-anarchist Dora Marsden. His genius, she says, was to recognise the two great oppositions, personality and amorphousness; his ‘boyish misstatement’ to locate these respectively in men, and in Jews and women. If ‘femaleness’ is not co-extensive with the term ‘women’, but refers to a loss of personality, then it is, she agrees, ‘the Great Denial — the thing to be overcome’ in women and men. (Dora Marsden)
The critical point here is that in modern times, the individual lost personality, lost selfhood and will.
© John Dunn.