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Otto Weininger
(April 3, 1880 - October 4, 1903) Austria

Otto Weininger

Philosopher, writer


Born in Vienna, a Jew converted to Protestantism, he was a gifted student and enrolled at the philosophical faculty of the University of Vienna in 1898, receiving his doctorate in 1902.

In his book Geschlecht und Charakter (Sex and Character), Weininger argues that all people are composed of a mixture of the male and the female substance, and attempts to support his view scientifically. The male aspect is active, productive, conscious and moral/logical, while the female aspect is passive, unproductive, unconscious and amoral/alogical.

In the autumn of 1901, Weininger approached Sigmund Freud with an outline for Sex and Character. Seemingly unimpressed by Weininger's arguments, Freud refused to recommend publication, and advised Weininger to spend "ten years" gathering empirical evidence for his assertions.

Weininger argues that emancipation should be reserved for the "masculine women", e.g. some lesbians, and that the female life is consumed with the sexual function: both with the act, as a prostitute, and the product, as a mother. Woman is a "matchmaker". By contrast, the duty of the male, or the masculine aspect of personality, is to strive to become a genius, and to forego sexuality for an abstract love of the absolute, God, which he finds within himself.

Weininger shot himself in front of the Vienna Opera, in the house where Beethoven had died, the man he considered one of the greatest geniuses of all. This made him a cause célèbre, inspired several imitation suicides, and turned his book into a success.

Isolated parts of Weininger's writings were used by Nazi propaganda, despite the fact that Weininger actively argued against the ideas of race upheld by the Nazis. Adolf Hitler is reported to have said something to the effect of "There was only one decent Jew, and he killed himself." Nevertheless, Weininger's books were denounced by the Nazis, most probably because Weininger encouraged women to think for themselves, and to determine their own future, which went directly against the Nazi idea of the role of women in society.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Weininger - et alii

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