Von Prag nach New York Hans Kohns (1891-1971) intellektuelle Biographie

Langeheine, Romy (2013) Von Prag nach New York Hans Kohns (1891-1971) intellektuelle Biographie. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Hans Kohn (1891-1971) continues to be considered as a founding father of the academic
research on and interpretation of nationalism. In more than thirty books and hundreds
of articles he outlined his theory of this worldwide phenomenon. His theory is
well-known as the so called “Kohn Dichotomy”. Based on the main categories of West
and East, understood as metaphors and not geographic locations, he differentiated between
two forms of nationalism: The Western model, based on the 18th century Enlightenment,
emphasized rationality and individual liberty as the basis of progress, tending
to limit the state power and aiming at world unity. Its non-Western (Eastern) counterpart
is characterized by a reaction against the Enlightenment: it is irrational and romantic,
and it glorifies the state power, tending to narrow and exclusivist views.
However, Kohn was more than just a theoretician of nationalism – he spent the first half
of his life as an active and influential member of the Jewish national movement. As a
Zionist he advocated a concept of ethical nationalism that would take the rights of other
peoples, particularly the Arab population in Palestine, into consideration.
Contemporary research views Kohn either as a theoretician of nationalism or as a Zionist.
Therefore, this study is the first attempt to present Kohn’s intellectual biography by
emphasizing both dimensions. Based on and intertwined with the four main stages of
Kohn’s life – his youth in Prague (1891-1914), as a prisoner of war in Russia (1915-
1920), as a Zionist in London and Palestine (1921-1934) as well as an academic researcher
in the United States of America (1934-1971) – it examines the main threads of
his thinking. The leading interpretative idea of this thesis is that throughout his life
Kohn kept the conviction that nationalism based on ethical grounds can be a positive
force leading to the unity of the world.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CT Biography > CT0031 History of biographical literature. Lives of biographers
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CT Biography > CT3200 Biography. By subject > CT3990 Academicians. Scholars.Savants
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2013 07:47
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 14:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/43808

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