Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Hannah Peacman presents a working paper on 'Jewish Radicalism as Radical Diversity? Radical thought in Jewish Perspectives on the Jewish Question in Early 19th Century Germany'

This paper is work in progress for a chapter in a volume on Jewish Radicalism. At the same time, it is my first attempt to bring together my theoretical approach and the sources that I am using in my PhD project. It works like a microstudy.
In the paper I discuss the question, what the connection was between the so called Jewish Question and Jewish Radicalism in the 19th century? I shortly indicate the expected answers by looking at Socialist and Zionist approaches. Rather, I show that there was a third strand of radical thinking in Jewish answers to the Jewish Question that is not usually taken as such. I argue that this radicalism was implicit in the Jewish debate on emancipation of Jews into bourgeois society. It was grounded in the mode of engagement of these thinkers with Enlightenment. These Jews did not define themselves as radicals nor are they usually understood as such. In fact, their claim of full emancipation does not seem radical, but moderate – the realization of the core principle of bourgeois society. I claim, however, that their critique of the anti-emancipatory anti-Jewish moments of Enlightenment is radical because it already tends to transcend this society. By showing how ideals of freedom and equality did not apply universally to Jews, these critics hinted at the immanent contradictions of bourgeois’ society.

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