Date of Degree
Robert M. Seltzer
History | Jewish Studies | Other History
Hans Kohn (1891-1971), Jewish nationalism, Nationalism, Neo-Enlightenment, Political Thought
This dissertation critically engages the thought of Hans Kohn (1891-1971). One of the most prominent theorists of nationalism in the twentieth century, Kohn has primarily been studied as an anti-statist Zionist thinker and as the originator of a Western-Civic/Eastern-Ethnic "dichotomy" of national development. This work takes a different approach by analyzing the matrix of tension between particularism and universalism in his mature, American thought. I argue that Kohn, especially in response to the crisis of fascism, used history to search for a balance within this perennial tension. His historical analyses, very much tied to his time and context, led him to believe that an ideal balance could be found in the spirit and values of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Kohn thus used his idea of Enlightenment as an "Archimedean point," upon which he tried to build a humanistic vision for a peaceful future in the context of a global "age of nationalism."
Smollett, Brian Matthew, "Reviving Enlightenment in the Age of Nationalism: The Historical and Political Thought of Hans Kohn in America" (2014). CUNY Academic Works.