40 research outputs found

    The Significance of Dehumanization: Nazi Ideology and its Psychological Consequences

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    Several authors have recently questioned whether dehumanization is a psychological prerequisite of mass violence. This paper argues that the significance of dehumanization in the context of National Socialism can be understood only if its ideological dimension is taken into account. The author concentrates on Alfred Rosenberg’s racist doctrine and shows that Nazi ideology can be read as a political anthropology that grounds both the belief in the German privilege and the dehumanization of the Jews. This anthropological framework combines biological, cultural and metaphysical aspects. Therefore, it cannot be reduced to biologism. This new reading of Nazi ideology supports three general conclusions: First, the author reveals a complex strategy of dehumanization which is not considered in the current psychological debate. Second, the analysis of the ideological mechanism suggests a model of dehumanization that is more plausible than other psychological models. Third, the author provides evidence that this kind of dehumanization had psychological consequences and hence was an important feature of Nazi reality

    In Defence of Epistemic Relativism: The Concept of Truth in Georg Simmel’s Philosophy of Money

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    As one of the first modern philosophers, Georg Simmel systematically developed a “relativistic world view” (Simmel 2004, VI). In this paper I attempt to examine Simmel’s relativistic answer to the question of truth. I trace his main arguments regarding the concept of truth and present his justification of epistemic relativism. In doing so, I also want to show that some of Simmel’s claims are surprisingly timely. Simmel’s relativistic concept of truth is supported by an evolutionary argument. The first part of this paper outlines that pragmatic foundation of his epistemology. The second part of the paper shows that Simmel develops what today would be called a coherence theory of truth. He presents his coherentist view that every belief is true only in relation to another one primarily as a theory of epistemic justification. The third part turns to Simmel’s original way of dealing with the (in)famous self-refutation charge against relativism

    Relativism in the Context of National Socialism

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    The aim of this chapter is to clarify the use and meaning of the concept of relativism in the context of National Socialism (NS). Section 1 examines the critical reproach that NS is a form of relativism. I analyze and criticize the common core of this widespread argument which has dominated discussions about the topic up to the present. Section 2 sketches the general debates on relativism before and during NS. I show that fascist thought could be associated with both relativism and anti-relativism. In contrast to the received view, I argue that Nazi intellectuals regarded relativism as problem, and presented NS as the overcoming of relativism. Subsequently I turn to two major philosophers who connected their philosophy with NS. Section 3 investigates Bruno Bauch’s (1887–1942) nationalist philosophy. I show that he linked his concept of the nation with an objectivist value theory intended to oppose all kinds of relativism. Section 4 turns to Erich Rothacker’s (1888–1965) cultural anthropology. I argue that the revision of his philosophical views in the 1930s was accompanied by a political turn towards NS and a withdrawal from relativism. The brief conclusion (Section 5) summarizes the findings of the chapter. I conclude that, in the context of NS, relativism is mostly used in a pejorative sense

    From Völkerpsychologie to Cultural Anthropology: Erich Rothacker’s Philosophy of Culture

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    Erich Rothacker (1888–1965) was a key figure in early-twentieth-century philosophy in Germany. In this paper, I examine the development of Rothacker’s philosophy of culture from 1907 to 1945. Rothacker began his philosophical career with a völkerpsychological dissertation on history, outlining his early biologistic conception of culture (1907–1913). In his mid-career work, he then turned to Wilhelm Dilthey’s (1833–1911) Lebensphilosophie (philosophy of life), advancing a hermeneutic approach to culture (1919–1928). In his later work (1929–1945), Rothacker developed a cultural anthropology. I shall argue that Rothacker’s later theory of culture retained key motifs of his earlier works. In this way, I trace central aspects of Rothacker’s reception of both Völkerpsychologie and Lebensphilosophie. The paper focuses on two aspects of Rothacker’s philosophical development that deserve more attention than they have received to date: his reception of Völkerpsychologie and the political character of his theories of culture. Rothacker’s theoretical work was closely connected to his political conservatism, which culminated in his engagement with National Socialism. The paper unearths problematic aspects of the legacy of Völkerpsychologie and Lebensphilosophie in early twentieth-century German thought

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    Die Perspektive des Lebens: Genealogie und Kritik beim späten Nietzsche

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    This paper focuses on the relation of genealogy and critique in Nietzsche’s late philosophy. It is argued that the late Nietzsche distinguishes between genealogy and critique. The genealogy of morality is a descriptive endeavor that shows the origin of values in processes of life. The critique of morality assesses the value of values from the perspective of life. It is argued that the concept of life is at the core of Nietzsche’s critical project and thus his fundamental standard. The paper also examines the role of the genealogical method in Nietzsche’s critical project. It is shown that the genealogy of values prepares their critique. Moreover, Nietzsche regards the alleged epistemic success of his genealogies as an indirect confirmation of the superiority of his evaluative position, i.e. of his affirmation of life
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