Elements of Controversy: Responses to Anti-Semitism in Nascent German Social Science

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Employing Marcelo Dascal’s theory and typology of controversies, this chapter attempts to pull together certain elements of the writing of Georg Simmel (1858–1918), the founder of formal sociology; Franz Boas (1858–1942), the founder of cultural anthropology; and Arthur Ruppin (1876–1943), the founder of Jewish sociology and demography, and interpret them with regard to the then contemporary social, political, or scientific anti-Semitism. Through a comparison of their writing, the chapter argues that Ruppin was engaged in a discussion with anti-Semitic writers, as the object of disagreement, anti-Semitic reaction to Jewish difference, was treated as being well circumscribed. Simmel was engaged in a dispute, the source of disagreement rooted in differences of attitude, feelings, or preferences, transcending Jews as a specified object. Boas approached a controversy, revolving around specific objects and problems but spreading to broader methodological issues. The chapter points to the fact that none of these discourses meet Dascal’s minimal definition of a controversy, because of the absence of a structured sequence of polemic exchanges (POPO). The chapter attempts to answer why this is so.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
ISSN (Print)2214-9120
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9139

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014.


  • European history
  • History of anthropology
  • History of antisemitism
  • History of sociology
  • Jewish history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Applied Mathematics


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