Kauders, AD (2021) Agency, Free Will, Self-Constitution: New Concepts for Historians of German-Jewish History between 1914 and 1938? Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook. ISSN 0075-8744

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This article discusses recent work on German-Jewish agency between 1914 and 1938. To find out whether ‘agency’ might be a helpful category for examining the crises facing Central European Jewry in this period, the article addresses the subject from the perspectives of individual and collective agency, applying classifications that philosophers have employed to make sense of human conduct. As I hope to show, these delimitations are only a preliminary step in trying to determine the explanatory power of agency. Whether the latter can serve as a tool in future work on modern German-Jewish history depends on the suitability of more specific philosophies of agency. Here the work of Christine Korsgaard and especially Michael Bratman may prove helpful in reflecting both on the self-understanding of German Jews in the first decades of the twentieth century and on their ‘freedom of action’ once this self-understanding was called into question. There is reason to see planning structures—grounded in the diachronic organization of our temporally extended selves—as basic to our individual and collective agency. Without ‘planning agency’, I will argue, ‘agency’ refers to mere action or choice.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) (2021). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Leo Baeck Institute. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2021 17:10
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 10:38
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/9284

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