Exactly 101 years prior to my birth, Otto Weininger was born in Vienna, on April 3, 1880. He was an Austrian philosopher. His book, that was published the year he died at 23 years of age is titled Geschlecht und Charakter (Sex and Character). It became more popular after his death. Nowadays the book has been put down by a lot of critics as sexist and anti-Semitic. However, many people still consider it to be a great work of genius and spirituality and wisdom.
Although feminists may scoff at Otto and call him a typical male sexist, that label is not truly fitting for him. Otto typically supported women in their pursuit of sexual liberation, their right to vote, and their right to divorce their spouses. Right before World War I the Suffragist movement ended in a series of violent campaigns and protests.
Otto's book is one of several books that discusses the sexuality in that era. Otto's book is uncommon in the sense that he was very young when he wrote it and shortlay after writing it he committed suicide in the same house in Vienna where Beethoven died. Weininger portrays the typical male as rational, spiritual, artistic and political in nature. He also believed that women by nature can only resemble these characteristics that men possess when they act like a man. Otto mentions different examples of women that meet his belief in this matter and claims that many successful women are lesbians.
Otto said his book is a "tell all" book, saying that everybody is made up of a mixture of both female and male substances. He then tries supporting this with scientific facts by saying that females have passive characteristics that are unconscious, unproductive and are without moral value; while the male characteristics are conscious, moral, active and very productive. Weininger continues this theory by stating that emancipation should be withheld from women who don't display the masculine features like that of a man, and that lesbians should have emancipation also. Otto also argues that the woman's role is to be dedicated to a purely sexual function of either a prostitute or a mother.
Otto is likened to a collection of men who are experiencing sexual frustration. However, this is far from being true. What Otto calls scientific evidence is really just his way of patronizing the sexual characteristics of women, and hides the want to go past the hostility and fear of the changing social scene of his time. As it turns out, his book is really about the separation among those men who are becoming overrun by women of power, and the arrogance of the men who are thought of as worldly men.
Much of Weininger's book is about his views on a person's genius. It is obviously based on Otto's personal experience. He believes that a person will have more than one field they excel in such as writing, math, musical talent, art …etc. He continues by stating that he believes there is only a single true genius that he calls "universal genius". He describes this as a person who possesses many such "geniuses" and that this "universal genius" exists in everybody to some extent.
Otto was of the Jewish faith, and in 1902, he converted his beliefs to Christianity. Otto studied the Jewish female and declared them lacking in religious impulses or emotions, and lacking a true identity. Weininger's description of Christianity was "the highest expression of the highest faith" and Judaism as "the extreme of cowardliness". Otto believed that everybody has parts of what he called "Jewishness and feminine traits"
In the period when Otto penned his book, he was labeled as extremely controversial for a best-selling author. The book is translated into many different languages from around the globe. It gives much insight into what was happening between the sexes during his era. Although many believe he is totally wrong in every belief he puts into his book, Otto does make several statements about the pop culture that resound with the phenomena of his era.
Otto Weininger died October 4, 1903. As I mentioned above his death was the result of a suicide. He committed suicide by shooting himself.
Otto considered Beethoven to be one of the greatest geniuses of all time. Otto's suicide inspired many copy cat suicides in other authors and performers; this helped turn his book into a success.