Otto Weininger: Sexuality and Science in Imperial Vienna
Turn-of-the-century Vienna is remembered as an aesthetic, erotic and intellectual world: the birthplace of Freud and psychoanalysis, waltz and Schnitzler’s novels. But the different contexts of this cultural vitality, chandak Sengoopta argues, were much darker and more complex than we can imagine.
This provocative, instructivetudie explores the environment in which the philosopher Otto Weininger (1880–1903) wrote his controversial book Geschlecht und Charakter (Gender and Character). Shortly after her extradition, at the age of twenty-three, Weininger committed suicide. His book, in which he declares that women and Jews are merely sexual beings who lack individuality, has become a bestseller.
Weininger, hailed as a genius by intellectuals like Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Kraus, was admired not for his prejudices, but because he was about the main problems of his time – the essence and meaning of identity. Sengoopta pays particular attention to how Weininger appropriated scientific language and data to define his views, and how he explores the scientific theories themselves.