Weimar Thought: A Contested Legacy
John P. McCormick
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During its short lifespan, the Weimar Republic (1918-33) witnessed an unprecedented flowering of achievements in many areas, including psychology, political theory, physics, philosophy, literary and cultural criticism, and the arts. Leading intellectuals, scholars, and critics--such as Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, and Martin Heidegger--emerged during this time to become the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century. Even today, the Weimar era remains a vital resource for new intellectual movements. In this incomparable collection, Weimar Thought presents both the specialist and the general reader a comprehensive guide and unified portrait of the most important innovators, themes, and trends of this fascinating period.
The book is divided into four thematic sections: law, politics, and society; philosophy, theology, and science; aesthetics, literature, and film; and general cultural and social themes of the Weimar period. The volume brings together established and emerging scholars from a remarkable array of fields, and each individual essay serves as an overview for a particular discipline while offering distinctive critical engagement with relevant problems and debates.
Whether used as an introductory companion or advanced scholarly resource, Weimar Thought provides insight into the rich developments behind the intellectual foundations of modernity.
license for political quietism. Tillich’s own theology exhibited an uncommon breadth of influences. His starting premise was the Kierkegaard-inspired idea that the human being by his very nature thirsts for ultimate meaning. If one harkens to its message this ultimacy must shatter any merely institutional or historical frameworks and can only be defined as a “breaking-in of the unconditioned.”64 Like Barth, Tillich in principle rejected any attempts to collapse the distinction between the
inner accountability before the Lord of history, and with the consciousness that in his Word and Gospel there exists a power with us and over us, that stands with majestic truth over all changes and movements of nation-state life.89 Hirsch’s political manifesto ignited a storm of controversy. Paul Tillich lashed back with a series of letters in which he faulted Hirsch for sacralizing the German nation and thereby abolishing the “reserve” (reservatum, i.e., independence from worldly authority)
69. Paul Tillich, “Zehn Thesen,” first published in Die Kirche und das Dritte Reich. Fragen und Forderungen deutscher Theologen, ed. Leopold Klotz (Gotha: Klotz, 1932), 126–28. Weimar Theology 177 70. Paul Tillich, Die sozialistische Entscheidung. (Potsdam, A. Protte, 1933). 71. For a discussion see Peter E. Gordon, Rosenzweig and Heidegger: Between Judaism and German Philosophy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 54–66. 72. Hermann Cohen, Religion of Reason out
by the Sozialstaat merely reflect the intentions of the particular party or interest group that lobbied for them; on the contrary, those issued by the president will purportedly reflect the will of the whole people. However, as the argument of Legality and Legitimacy unfolds, Schmitt consistently reveals this to be a theory of democracy that disempowers the people, and certainly, the working class on whose behalf Sozialstaat policy has been largely promulgated up to now. According to Schmitt’s
the actor upholds certain ends or ideals, regardless of cost) and an “ethic of responsibility”(in which the political actor pays the greatest heed to costs, and takes personal responsibility for the “foreseeable results” of his action).22 80 Dana Villa However much we may prefer “responsibility for consequences” to the idealistic zealotry of an “ethic of ultimate ends,” Weber’s version of a distinctly political ethic ultimately merges the two. To sustain a career as a political actor, to