A Contextualist Approach to Teaching Antisemitism in Philosophy Class
Keywords:Berlin Antisemitism Controversy, Heinrich von Treitschke, Moritz Lazarus, Hermann Cohen, Nineteenth Century, Contextualism, Pedagogy, Teaching philosophy, German Philosophy
This paper argues for a ‘contextualist’ approach to teaching antisemitism in philosophy class. The traditional ‘systematic’ approach emphasizes recognizing and dismantling antisemitic aspects in canonical philosophical texts. The introduced contextualist approach broadens the perspective, treating philosophy as a continuous debate embedded in cultural realities. It focuses on historical controversies rather than isolated arguments, includes the voice and the perspectives of the oppressed, and so has the potential to broaden traditional philosophical canons. In the second half of the paper, we provide a case study of the contextualist approach, applying it to the ‘Berlin antisemitism controversy’ of 1879/80. We argue that the contextualist approach is particularly valuable when dealing with antisemitism as it teaches students to analyze arguments within the socio-political landscape and to identify antisemitic elements. The students thereby acquire the skills to discern antisemitic argumentation in other contexts as well. We suggest that this approach could be used to teach other debates in the history of philosophy, especially those tackling race, sex, and gender issues.
Copyright (c) 2022 Elisabeth Theresia Widmer, Henriikka Hannula
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.