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Religions 2012, 3(2), 228-250; doi:10.3390/rel3020228

Karl Mannheim’s Jewish Question

Bard College, Annandale, New York 12504, USA
Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s NL, Canada A1C 5S7
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 January 2012 / Revised: 26 March 2012 / Accepted: 6 April 2012 / Published: 11 April 2012
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In this paper, we explore Karl Mannheim’s puzzling failure (or refusal) to address himself in any way to questions arising out of the position of Jews in Germany, either before or after the advent of Nazi rule—and this, notwithstanding the fact, first, that his own ethnic identification as a Jew was never in question and that he shared vivid experiences of anti-Semitism, and consequent exile from both Hungary and Germany, and, second, that his entire sociological method rested upon using one’s own most problematic social location—as woman, say, or youth, or intellectual—as the starting point for a reflexive investigation. It was precisely Mannheim’s convictions about the integral bond between thought grounded in reflexivity and a mission to engage in a transformative work of Bildung that made it effectively impossible for him to formulate his inquiries in terms of his way of being Jewish. It is through his explorations of the rise and fall of the intellectual as socio-cultural formation that Mannheim investigates his relations to his Jewish origins and confronts the disaster of 1933. The key to our puzzle is to be found in the theory of assimilation put forward in the dissertation of his student, Jacob Katz.
Keywords: Karl Mannheim; Jacob Katz; Jewishness; sociology; intellectuals; cultivation; assimilation; Germany Karl Mannheim; Jacob Katz; Jewishness; sociology; intellectuals; cultivation; assimilation; Germany
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Kettler, D.; Meja, V. Karl Mannheim’s Jewish Question. Religions 2012, 3, 228-250.

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