Jews & Intellectual Life

This is a serious thread, not some garbage Holla Forums bait.

Basically, I'm interested in the reasons why so many European Jews played such an eminent role in 20th-century Western thought. I mean, they made up only 1-2% of Europe's population before the Holocaust and encountered discrimination at every corner yet they seem to always be around any achievement in science, the humanities or art.

We should know, considering the amount of Jewish socialists — including the one and only Karl Marx and the infamous Frankfurt School of witchcraft and wizardry. But this is also true of physicists (Einstein, Bohr, Oppenheimer), chemists (Prigogine, Haber, De Evesy), historians (Bloch, Hobsbawm, Zinn), sociologists (Durkheim, Simmel, Elias), anthropologists (Boas, Lévi-Strauss, Mauss), writers (Proust, Kafka, Asimov), artists (Chagall, Lissitzky, Modigliani), musicians (Schönberg, Ligeti, Reich), even game designers (Baer, Spector, Mechner) — and the list goes on.

I mean, African-Americans (a similarly historically discriminated minority) are over-represented when it comes to innovations in popular music — blues, jazz, rock, disco, funk, soul, electro, hip-hop, house, techno, etc — but Jews' area of expertise is incomparably broader.

So… how did they do it?

Our faith stresses intellect. The bulk of our religious texts (Gemara, Mishna, Zohar, etc.) are exegeses looking to find the meaning behind the meaning of the written Torah. Historically, it was much more important for a Jewish guy to be well-learned than rich when it came to marriage. The stress on intellectual life and drive to repair the existing world is undoubtedly what gave the world leftism and Marxism.

Shabbat shalom!

Most of the Jewish figures I mentioned were non-practicing, non-believers or even atheists though.

1) Jewish culture places high emphasis on logical and scientific thought
2) Jewish groups are notable for taking part in nepotism to an extent not seen in many others
3) Ashkennazi Jews probably do have some kind of genetic basis that means they're more likely to be geniuses


They were still immersed in Jewish paradigms. If you accept Zizek's advocacy of an "atheist Xtianity" - and completely agree with calling it "Xtian" - then you should see minimal difference.

Were they as children? Religious cultural practices may get abandoned with age, but their effect on us as we grew doesn't disappear

Jews were more educated and urbanized for centuries than most of the population in western europe because medieval ordinances prohibited them from working the land, forcing them to find other occupations.

Yeah, but why though? What's the reason for this trend?


Jews maintained isolated communities which didn't integrate into the broader christian they lived in. This combined with a lack of centralised authority led to jewish communities placing a strong emphasis on maintaining certain traditions which kept their disparate communities coherent such as hebrew schools. In a christian europe where a vast majority of people lacked any education and even many aristocrats couldn't read and write well these being restricted to the clergy and only later the lawyers and urban professionals/emergent bourgeoisie. Jews (at least the men) who knew how to read, write, were far likelier to be mathematically competent found them, in spite of all the persecution against them, frequently employed by the nobility and otherwise filling in the demand for secular educated professionals that europe lacked at the time. This basically continued with while many jews historically having been victims of pogroms and the like possibly even as a perverse natural selection towards the jews who were in these professional intellectual roles and more likely to survive persecution than poor rural jews.
Whether practicing or not having parents who are educated has a profound impact on intellectual potential and how you grow up so its understandable that in the 19th and early 20th centuries people of jewish descent were substantially likelier to have grown up in a literate household with parents who are intellectual than christian/non-jewish descent the households of which are in 90% going to be working class households in which the parents had no formal education or otherwise.
Basically jewish focus on education suddenly conferred a significant advantage in academic disciplines which had just entered their golden age and industrial society allowed them access to.

Equally black popular musical ability in the 20th century was the result of the unique historical experience that emancipation was in the us. blacks had been denied education and had very low literacy levels, instead developing a fairly rich oral cultural tradition which with the advent of mass media, radio and television, recording industry etc, in the early 20th century as well as the civil rights movement giving blacks access to higher education and generally a focus on desegregation and some limelight on american blacks led to them exploding into the musical scene.

How unmarxist of you

When the dominant culture bars a certain group from specific professions, they're bound to specialize.
Another reason is that throughout the ages a lot of the poorer jews were either forced to convert or assimilate, while the richer strata had the means to maintain their social cohesion and identity.
Eventually this caused a self-reinforcing cycle.

Pic related somewhat related.

Yet another typo.
I'm running out of rope/cyanide/9mm

Great post, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

The questions I have about this are:

Isn't like ~90% of Rabbinic Judaism just about out-lawyering God's commands?

Does anyone actually believe this meme? As if Jews would rather work in the fields than be moneylenders to kings and nobles


that's pretty impressive for Sandpeople in 3k BC though.

it prohibited them from owning land, not working it. and yes, believe it or not, making a living in the city can be much harder than working the fields.



They're not unique though. The Ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, and Akkadians were also such civilizations that produced great developments such as written language and laws.

yeah but having grand philosophical debates like "what is a house?" in your holy book sounds pretty dope.
Meanwhile the bible is just >disobey >punished >obey >blessed.

But Rabbinic Judaism is a bizarre mix of autistically-obsessive obedience of God's commands and legalistic maneuvering to avoid the intent of those commands.

Why even bother slavishly obeying Gods word if you're just going to ask Rabbi Goldblatt for a loophole

Intelectual exercise, I was going to post StirnerMasked Engels but it's not in the booru.

There are better ways of doing that without trying to circumvent a set of rules you made for yourself: philosophy. It seems that many Jews feel like they are obligated to follow their religion rather than doing so out of genuine attachment and interest in it, because otherwise they wouldn't have all these crazy loopholes.

Is naziposter a disciple of Rafiq?
or is he Rafiq’s second coming?


Dude, get that image of that miserable medieval peasent out of your head. They basically only worked for 4-5 hours a day, the rest was free time. Villages had festivals almost every fucking week were you could get drunk, you almost never starved because seasons in Europe are one of the most stable in the world. The only real shitty thing was that the peasent owned the right to use the land to his liege lord, who could in exchange demand that the peasent or one of his sons would follow him into war. But even that wasn't so bad, you got the chance to see the world and find something valuable, and medieval wars weren't deadly at all. They might have been one of the least deadliest wars in history.

Meanwhile in the city you might have been "free", but you had to work harder, were in a horrible hygienic condition, could loose your occupation every day unless you learned a trade (which was protected by secretive trade guilds which never allowed outsiders), and probably had to join the milita or the prison guards at some point, which was a miserable life. Prison guards and militamen were hold in low esteem by the city population.

t. someone who majored in medieval history

Jews were among several cultures and nations of their time and region that began developing philosophy, with the Babylonians writing about medicine (which was largely philosophy back then) and the Ancient Egyptians thinking about moral dualities and life essences, for example.

Marx was only half Jewish

Pleasantly surprised to see this brought up here. It definitely wasn't "Blonde women frolicking in wheat fields all day". But the idea that peasants were disease ridden and constantly on the brink of starvation is just not grounded in historical realities. If anything - as you said - that is a more accurate description of city life.
And while peasants did occasionally have to perform labor for their lieges, it only much later on (during the early modern) era that conditions became truly miserable, with peasants being forced to work most of the week for superiors. On top of continent spanning wars (such as the 30 Years War), epidemics, famine, and atrocities. It's no surprise all of that coincided with the development of capitalism following the black death.

I totally expect the screeching crypto-liberals to come out of the woodwork and argue we should explicitly support capitalism - rather than the mere growth of produce forces - because "muh progress"

Marx was raised as a believing Lutheran.

This is an interesting question
I'd like the inverse answered as well: why do poor American blacks actively assign a negative value to intelligence? (Not Holla Forumsshit, just an observation I made growing up-the dumb black kids would mock the smart kids whereas the dumb white kids would make attempts to befriend the smart kids. In Highschool, the dumb black kids would play punching games where for every "A" their friends get, each other friend punches them once and for straight "A"s, it would be a full on beatdown)



but what mattered was that his family had adopted a Jewish culture of living, even if their faith had changed. Being Jewish is more than just a religion.>>2353631

Every culture has certain values. Jewish and Asian culture put an emphasis on education. White culture hard work. Black and Latino culture on manliness. For Black people, since they grow up in dastardly conditions, they need to be tough or they can literally die. Being tough is the difference between someone stealing your stuff and potentially killing you to leaving you alone. Being someone who studies and does well in school makes you "a lame."

Demonic energies.

That's really scary.

Uh? His parents were both Jewish and descended from families in which there were prominent rabbis.

And these values change constantly. Considering "culture" is a set of customs and values, saying "cultures" have different values is tautological. The real question is: why does a specific culture exhibit specific values at a given moment in history?

Have you read E.P. Thompson's Time, Work-​Discipline and Industrial Capitalism? It describes how the European lower-classes tried to subvert factory discipline during industrialization. Until the bourgeoisie forced the workweek upon them in the name of the work ethic, most workers would just toil a few days, enough to get by — and then spend most of their time drinking, sleeping and lazing around.

I'm just not even sure what that means even though:
1. he was raised a believing Christian
2. He cared little to nothing about his Jewish heritage
3. He was married to the daughter of a Prussian aristocrat
4. He did not seem to like Jews very much. I think its an exaggeration to say he was an anti-semite but you just have to read some of the comments he made about Jews to realize he wasn't their biggest fan. Although he didn't hate Jews as a people I wouldn't say he loved their culture

Do I really have to pull out the old quoat.