Sex and Character

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


SEX & CHARACTER

 

 

THE GERMAN PRESS

ON “SEX AND CHARACTER."

Die Umschau.—“Dr. Otto Weininger's book is destined to place the relation of the sexes in a new light. He traces the contrast between man and woman to a single principle, and makes an attempt to reduce the spiritual differences of the sexes to a system.”

Allgemeine Wienier Medizinische Zeitung.—“An extraordinary book, that called forth the learned criticism of two faculties, and had appeared in a third edition a few months after its publication, before the scientific world had been able to pronounce upon it seriously, not to say finally. . . . A book that will henceforth be in the hands of every doctor who has occasion to study the antithetical character of the two sexes.”

Der Volkserzieher.—“There is no aspect of modern thought which he (Weininger) has not touched upon in the course of his investigations, no recess of the labyrinthine modern soul into which he does not invite us to glance with him, no question on which he has not touched, or to which he has not, indeed, offered a solution in accordance with his own philosophy.”

Allgemeine Zeitung.—“ This book ... is a sensational work, both by reason of its contents and of the tragic fate of its author. Weininger, as is commonly known, shot himself in the autumn of 1903 at the early age of twenty-three, in the house in Vienna where Beethoven had died. . . . But it is the book itself, even more than its author's ir dividuality, which is abnormal. It is nothing less than an attempt to construct a system of sexual characterology on the broadest scientific basis, with all the resources of the most modern philosophy.”

Münchener Neueste Nachrichten.—“‘Sex and Character,’ by Dr. Weininger, has none of the character of a youthful work. The learning revealed in this book, and indeed its whole conception, are such that we might take it for the strenuous achievement of a lifetime.”

Neues Wiener Tageblatt.—“ A great philosophical, biological, and social question is here treated by a gifted and learned author with perfect freedom and breadth, yet with a seriousness, a wealth of scientific knowledge, that would ensure the book a place in the front rank, even were the style less excellent, vivacious, and individual than it is.”

Die Wage.—“The author is a brilliant stylist. On every page I find aphorisms, in which the form fits the thought like a veil of silver. And these thoughts are no ordinary ones. The writer goes his own way, he knows secret paths which no man has yet trodden, and he shrinks from no obstacles. He lets himself down cautiously into the abyss, for he has determined to sound the deepest depths ; from time to time, however, he looks up from the pit and rejoices in the light of the eternal stars, even though they lie hid from his mortal vision. He carries his arguments to their ultimate conclusion. We rebel against these conclusions, but we admire the uncompromising logic of the thinker.”

 

 
 

SEX & CHARACTER

 

BY
OTTO WEININGER

 

AUTHORISED TRANSLATION FROM THE
SIXTH GERMAN EDITION

 

Wh-logo-1906.png

 

LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN
NEW YORK : G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
1906

 

 

All rights reserved
Copyright, London: William Heinemann, 1906
Copyright, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1906

 

 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

On October 4, 1903, Otto Weininger died by his own hand, at the age of twenty-three and a half years. There is perhaps in all history no other instance of a man who had produced a work so mature in its scientific character, and so original in its philosophical aspect as "Sex and Character" when he was no more than twenty-one years old. We will not attempt to decide whether this was the case of a genius, who, instead of developing his intellectual powers gradually in the course of a lifetime, concentrated them in one mighty achievement, and then cast off the worn-out husk of the flesh, or of an unhappy youth, who could no longer bear the burden of his own ghastly knowledge.

"Sex and Character" is undoubtedly one of those rare books that will be studied long after its own times, and whose influence will not pass away, but will penetrate deeper and deeper, compelling amazement and inviting reflection in steadily expanding circles. It may be noted with satisfaction that the book is by no means in harmony with contemporary thought. The discussions, so much in favour nowadays, concerning the emancipation of women, sexuality, the relation of women to culture, and so forth, are deprived of their data by this publication; for here, laid down with all the penetrating acumen of the trained logician, is a characterisation of sexual types, "M" (the ideal man), and "W" (the ideal woman), which traces all the much discussed psychological phenomena back to a final source, and actually gives a definitive solution to the feminine problem, a solution altogether alien to the field of inquiry wherein the answer has hitherto been sought. In the science of characterology, here formulated for the first time, we have a strenuous scientific achievement of the first importance. All former psychologies have been the psychology of the male, written by men, and more or less consciously applicable only to man as distinguished from humanity. "Woman does not betray her secret," said Kant, and this has been true till now. But now she has revealed it—by the voice of a man. The things women say about themselves have been suggested by men; they repeat the discoveries, more or less real, which men have made about them. By a highly original method of analysis, a man has succeeded for the first time in giving scientific and abstract utterance to that which only some few great artists have suggested by concrete images hitherto. Weininger, working out an original system of characterology (psychological typology) rich in prospective possibilities, undertook the construction of a universal psychology of woman which penetrates to the nethermost depths, and is based not only on a vast systematic mastery of scientific knowledge, but on what can only be described as an appalling comprehension of the feminine soul in its most secret recesses. This newly created method embraces the whole domain of human consciousness; research must be carried out on the lines laid down by Nature—in three stages, and from three distinct points of view: the biologico-physiological, the psychologically descriptive, and the philosophically appreciative. I will not dwell here on the equipment essential for such a task, the necessary combination of a comprehensive knowledge of natural history with a minute and exhaustive mastery of psychological and philosophical science—a combination destined, perhaps, to prove unique.

The general characterisation of the ideal woman, "W," is followed by the construction of individual types, which are finally resolved into two elemental figures (Platonic conceptions to some extent), the Courtesan and the Mother. These are differentiated by their pre-occupation with the sexual act (the main, and in the ultimate sense, sole interest of "W"), in the first case, as an end in itself, in the second as the process which results in the possession of a child. The abnormal type, the hysterical woman, leads up to a masterly psychological (not physiological) theory of hysteria, which is acutely and convincingly defined as "the organic mendacity of woman."

Weininger himself attached the highest importance to the ethico-philosophical chapters that conclude his work, in which he passes from the special problem of sexuality to the problems of individual talent, genius, aesthetics, memory, the ego, the Jewish race, and many others, rising finally to the ultimate logical and moral principles of judgment. From his most universal standpoint he succeeds in estimating woman as a part of humanity, and, above all, subjectively. Here he deliberately comes into sharp conflict with the fashionable tendencies towards an unscientific monism and its accompanying phenomena, pan-sexuality and the ethics of species, and characterises very aptly the customary superficialities of the many non-philosophical modern apostles, of whom Wilhelm Bölsche and Ellen Key are perhaps the most representative types. Weininger, in defiance of all reigning fashions, represents a consolidated dualism, closely related to the eternal systems of Plato, of Christianity, and of Kant, which finds an original issue in a bitterly tragic conception of the universe. Richard Wagner (whom Weininger calls the greatest of human beings after Jesus) gives artistic expression in his Parsifal to the concepception Weininger sets forth scientifically. It is, in fact, the old doctrine of the divine life and of redemption to which the whole book, with its array of detail, is consecrated. In Kundry, Weininger recognises the most profound conception of woman in all literature. In her redemption by the spotless Parsifal, the young philosopher sees the way of mankind marked out; he contrasts with this the programme of the modern feminist movement, with its superficialities and its lies; and so, in conclusion, the book returns to the problem, which, in spite of all its wealth of thought, remains its governing idea: the problem of the sexes and the possibility of a moral relation between them—a moral relation fundamentally different from what is commonly understood by the term, of course. In the two chapters: "The Nature of Woman and her significance in the Universe," and "Woman and Mankind," we drink from a fountain of the ripest wisdom. A tragic and most unhappy mind reveals itself here, and no thoughtful man will lay down this book without deep emotion and admiration; many, indeed, will close it with almost religious reverence.

 

 
 

CONTENTS

 
Page
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
ix
 

FIRST OR PREPARATORY PART

SEXUAL COMPLEXITY

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
1

On the development of general conceptions—Male and female—Contradictions—Transitional forms—Anatomy and natural endowment—Uncertainty of anatomy

 
Males and Females
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
5

Embryonic neutral condition—Rudiments in the adult—Degrees of "gonochorism"—Principle of intermediate forms—Male and female—Need for typical conceptions—Resumé—Early anticipations

Male and Female Plasmas
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
11

Position of sexuality—Steenstrup's view adopted—Sexual characters—Internal secretions—Idioplasm—Arrhenoplasm—Thelyplasm—Variations—Proofs from the effects of castration—Transplantation and transfusion—Organotherapy—Individual differences between cells—Origin of intermediate sexual conditions—Brain—Excess of male births—Determination of sex—Comparative pathology

Page
The Laws of Sexual Attraction
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
26

Sexual preference—Probability of these being controlled by a law—First formula—First interpretation—Proofs—Heterostylism—Interpretation of heterostylism—Animal kingdom—Further laws—Second formula—Chemotaxis—Resemblances and differences—Goethe, "elective affinities—Marriage and free love—Effects on progeny

 
Homo-sexuality and Pederasty
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
45

Homo-sexuals as intermediate forms—Inborn or acquired, healthy or diseased?—A special instance of the law of attraction—All men have the rudiments of homo-sexuality—Friendship and sexuality—Animals—Failure of medical treatment—Homo-sexuality, punishment and ethics—Distinction between homo-sexuality and pederasty

 
The Science of Character and the Science of Form
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
53

Principle of sexually intermediate forms as fundamental principle of the psychology of individuals—Simultaneity or periodicity?—Methods of psychological investigation—Examples—Individualised education—Conventionalising—Parallelism between morphology and characterology—Physiognomy and the principles of psycho-physics—Method of the doctrine of variation—A new way of stating the problem—Deductive morphology—Correlation—Outlook

 
Emancipated Women
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
64

The woman question—Claim for emancipation and maleness—Emancipation and homo-sexuality—Sexual preferences of emancipated women—Physiognomy of emancipated women—Other celebrated women—Femaleness and emancipation—

Page

Practical rules—Genius essentially male—Movements of women in historical times—Periodicity—Biology and the conception of history—Outlook of the woman movement—Its fundamental error

SECOND OR PRINCIPAL PART

THE SEXUAL TYPES

Man and Woman
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
79

Bisexuality and unisexuality—Man or woman, male or female—Fundamental difficulty in characterology—Experiment, analysis of sensation and psychology—Dilthey—Conception of empirical character—What is and what is not the object of psychology—Character and individuality—Problem of characterology and the problem of the sexes

 
Male and Female Sexuality
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
85

The problem of a female psychology—Man as the interpreter of female psychology—Differences in the sexual impulse—The absorbing and liberating factors—Intensity and activity—Sexual irritability of women—Larger field of the sexual life in woman—Local differences in the perception of sexuality—Local and periodical cessation of male sexuality—Differences in the degrees of consciousness of sexuality

 
Male and Female Consciousness
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
93

Sensation and feeling—Avenarius' division into "element" and "character." These inseparable at the earliest stage—Process of "clarification"—Presentiments—Grades of understanding—Forgetting—Paths and organisation—Conception of "henids"—The henid as the simplest, psychical datum—Sexual differences in the organisation of the contents of

 
Page

the mind—Sensibility—Certainty of judgment—Developed consciousness as a male character

 
Talent and Genius
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
103

Genius and talent—Genius and giftedness—Methods—Comprehension of many men—What is meant by comprehending men—Great complexity of genius—Periods in psychic life—No disparagement of famous men—Understanding and noticing—Universal consciousness of genius—Greatest distance from the henid stage—A higher grade of maleness—Genius always universal—The female devoid of genius or of hero-worship—Giftedness and sex

 
Talent and Memory
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
114

Organisation and the power of reproducing thoughts—Memory of experiences a sign of genius—Remarks and conclusions—Remembrance and apperception—Capacity for comparison and acquisition—Reasons for the masculinity of music, drawing and painting—Degrees of genius—Relation of genius to ordinary men—Autobiography—Fixed ideas—Remembrance of personal creations—Continuous and discontinuance memory—Continuity and piety—Past and present—Past and future—Desire for immortality—Existing psychological explanations—True origin—Inner development of man until death—Ontogenetic psychology or theoretical biography—Woman lacking in the desire for immortality—Further extension of relation of memory to genius—Memory and time—Postulate of timelessness—Value as a timeless quality—First law of the theory of value—Proofs—Individuation and duration constituents of value—Desire for immortality a special case—Desire for immortality in genius connected with timelessness, by his universal memory and the duration of his creations—Genius and history—Genius and nations—Genius and language—Men of action and men of science, not to be called men of genius—Philosophers, founders of religion and artists have genius

Memory, Logic and Ethics
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
142

Psychology and "psychologismus"—Value of memory—Theory of memory—Doctrines of practice and of association—Confusion with recognition—Memory peculiar to man—Moral significance—Lies—Transition to logic—Memory and the principle of identity—Memory and the syllogism—Woman non-logical and non-ethical—Intellectual and moral knowledge—The intelligible ego

 
Logic, Ethics and the Ego
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
153

Critics of the conception of the Ego—Hume: Lichtenberg, Mach—The ego of Mach and biology—Individuation and individuality—Logic and ethics as witnesses for the existence of the ego—Logic—Laws of identity and of contraries—Their use and significance—Logical axioms as the laws of essence—Kant and Fichte—Freedom of thought and freedom of the will—Ethics—Relation to logic—The psychology of the Kantian ethics—Kant and Nietzsche

 
The "I" Problem and Genius
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
163
Characterology and the belief in the "I"—Awakening of the ego—Jean Paul, Novalis, Schelling—The awakening of the ego and the view of the world—Self-consciousness and arrogance—The view of the genius to be more highly valued than that of other men—Final statements as to the idea of genius—The personality of the genius as the perfectly-conscious microcosm—The naturally-synthetic activity of genius—Significant and symbolical—Definition of the genius in relation to ordinary men—Universality as freedom—Morality or immorality of genius?—Duties towards self and others—What duty to another is—Criticism of moral sympathy and social ethics—Understanding of other men as the one require
Page

ment of morality and knowledge—I and thou—Individualism and universalism—Morality only in monads—The man of greatest genius as the most moral man—Why man is ζῶον πολιτικον—Consciousness and morality—The great criminal Genius as duty and submission—Genius and crime—Genius and insanity—Man as his own creator

 
Male and Female Psychology
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
186

Soullessness of woman—History of this knowledge—Woman devoid of genius—No masculine women in the true sense—The unconnectedness of woman's nature due to her want of an ego—Revision of the henid-theory—Female "thought" —Idea and object—Freedom of the object—Idea and judgment—Nature of judgment—Woman and truth as a criterion of thought—Woman and logic—Woman non-moral, not immoral—Woman and solitude—Womanly sympathy and modesty—The ego of women—Female vanity—Lack of true self-appreciation—Memory for compliments—Introspection and repentance—Justice and jealousy—Name and individuality—Radical difference between male and female mental life—Psychology with and without soul—Is psychology a science?—Soul and psychology—Problem of the influence of the psychical sexual characters of the male or the female

 
Motherhood and Prostitution
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
214
Special characterology of woman—Mother and prostitute—Relation of two types to the child—Woman polygamous—Analogies between motherhood and sexuality—Motherhood and the race—Maternal love ethically indifferent—The prostitute careless of the race—The prostitute, the criminal and the conqueror—Emperor and prostitute—Motive of the prostitute—Coitus an end in itself—Coquetry—The sensations of the woman in coitus in relation to the rest of her life—The prostitute as the enemy—The friend of life and its enemy—No prostitution amongst animals—Its origin a mystery
Page
Erotics and Æsthetics
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
236

Women, and the hatred of women—Erotics and sexuality—Platonic love—The idea of love—Beauty of women—Relation to sexual impulse—Love and beauty—Difference between aesthetics, logic and ethics—Modes of love—Projection phenomena—Beauty and morality—Nature and ethics—Natural and artistic beauty—Sexual love as guilt—Hate, love and morality—Creation of the devil—Love and sympathy—Love and shyness—Love and vanity—Love of woman as a means to an end—Relation between the child and love, the child and sexuality—Love and murder—Madonna-worship—Madonna, a male idea, without basis in womanhood—Woman sexual, not erotic—Sense of beauty in women—How man acts on woman—The fate of the woman—Why man loves woman

 
The Nature of Woman and Her Significance in the Universe
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
252
Meaning of womanhood—Instinct for pairing or matchmaking—Man, and matchmaking—High valuation of coitus—Individual sexual impulse, a special case—Womanhood as pairing or universal sexuality—Organic falseness of woman—Hysteria—Difference between man and beast, woman and man—The higher and lower life—Birth and death—Freedom and happiness—Happiness and man—Happiness and woman—Woman and the problem of existence—Non-existence of woman—Male and female friendship—Pairing identical with womanhood—Why women must be regarded as human—Contrast between subject—Object, matter, form, man, woman—Meaning of henids—Formation of woman by man—Significance of woman in the universe—Man as something, woman as nothing—Psychological problem of the fear of woman—Womanhood and crime—Creation of woman by man's crime—Woman as his own sexuality accepted by man—Woman as the guilt of man—What man's love of woman is, in its deepest significance
Page
Judaism
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
301

Differences amongst men—Intermediate forms and racial anthropology—Comparison of Judaism and femaleness—Judaism as an idea—Antisemitism—Richard Wagner—Similarities between Jews and women—Judaism in science—The Jew not a monad—The Jew and the Englishman—Natureof humour—Humourand satire—The Jewess—Deepest significance of Judaism—Want of faith—The Jew not non-mystical, yet impious—Want of earnestness, and pride—The Jew as opposed to the hero—Judaism and Christianity—Origin of Christianity—Problem of the founders of religion—Christ as the conqueror of the Judaism in Himself—The founders of religions as the greatest of men—Conquest of inherent Judaism necessary for all founders of religion—Judaism and the present time—Judaism, femaleness, culture and humanity

 
Woman and Mankind
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
331

The idea of humanity, and woman as the match-maker—Goethe-worship—Womanising of man—Virginity and purity—Male origin of these ideas—Failure of woman to understand the erotic—Woman's relation to sexuality—Coitus and love—Woman as the enemy of her own emancipation—Asceticism immoral—Sexual impulse as a want of respect—Problem of the Jew—Problem of the woman—Problem of slavery—Moral relation to women—Man as the opponent of emancipation—Ethical postulates—Two possibilities—The problem of women as the problem of humanity—Subjection of women—Persistence or disappearance of the human race—True ground of the immorality of the sexual impulse—Earthly paternity—Inclusion of women in the conception of humanity—The mother and the education of the human race—Last questions

 
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
351


This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.