Phenomenology, Judaism, and National Socialism – University of Copenhagen

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Phenomenology, Judaism, and National Socialism




Hans Ruin (Södertörn University, Stockholm):
Husserl's Conversion
15:15-16:00 Dan Zahavi (CFS - University of Copenhagen): 
"Der Jude Husserl" - Grunsky, Würzbach, Heidegger
16:15-17:00 Sara Heinämaa (University of Jyväskylä & Academy of Finland):
Sartre on Hate Speech and Identity Formation


The workshop is free and open to all, no registration is needed.


Husserl's Conversion
The talk will explore the topic of conversion in Husserl as both a religious and philosophical topos. It takes its point of departure in the personal historical background of Husserl’s own conversion from Judaism to Lutheran Christianity, following the death of his father and under the direct influence of his friend Thomas Masaryk. It discusses the theological-philosophical roots of this spiritual reorientation, primarily through St Paul and Augustine. At the core of the Pauline spiritual transformation is a paradoxical experience simultaneous loss and retrieval. It then proceeds to raise the question of the phenomenological reduction as an intellectual form of conversion. The notable absence of any explicit recognition of a Hebraic inheritance in Husserl’s later historical-philosophical schema is addressed as a question, and contrasted with Levinas’ later explicit attempt to reverse the philhellenism of German philosophy and phenomenology.

"Der Jude Husserl" - Grunsky, Würzbach, Heidegger
It is common knowledge that many phenomenologists were Jews or had a Jewish background. It is also well known that many of them either had to flee from or were persecuted by the German National Socialist Regime. The manner in which phenomenologists were criticized philosophically by academics who identified with the Nazi regime is less well known however. In my talk, I will discuss some examples of these attacks and also touch on the question of whether Heidegger's criticism of Husserl repeat some of the same tropes.    

Sartre on Hate Speech and Identity Formation
The talk will clarify Sartre's concept of antisemitism, as developed in his Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (1944). I will focus on two aspects of Sartre’s argument, in particular: first, his discussions of the political functions of emotions and, second, his analysis of the rationale of what nowadays is called “hate speech”. In order to illuminate these phenomena, I draw insights also from two other sources, from Beauvoir’s comparison between racism and sexism, on the one hand, and from Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s more recent account of four different types of prejudices, antisemitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.