Werner Sombart on the Jewish Character
January 15, 2013
In the excerpt below (from pp. 183-7) he describes the Jewish character as overly intellectual and goal-oriented.
The intellectuality of the Jew is so strong that it tends to develop at the expense of other mental qualities, and the mind is apt to become one-sided.
The Jew certainly sees remarkably clearly, but he does not see much.
Hence the [Jewish] lack of sympathy for every status where the nexus is a personal one. The Jews' whole being is opposed to all that is usually understood by chivalry, to all sentimentality, knight-errantry, feudalism, patriarchalism. Nor does he comprehend a social order based on relationships such as these. "Estates of the realm" and craft organizations are a loathing to him.
The conception of the universe in the mind of such an intellectual people must perforce have been that of a structure well-ordered in accordance with reason. By the aid of reason, therefore, they sought to understand the world; they were rationalists, both in theory and in practice.
Now as soon as a strong consciousness of the ego attaches itself to the predominating intellectuality in the thinking being, he will tend to group the world round that ego. In other words, he will look at the world from the point of view of end, or goal, or purpose.
He brings everything into relation with his ego. He is for ever asking why, what for, what will it bring? Cui bono? His greatest interest is always in the result of a thing, not in the thing itself. It is un-Jewish to regard any activity, be it what you will, as an end in itself; un-Jewish to live your life without having any purpose, to leave all to chance; un-Jewish to get harmless pleasure out of Nature.
How deeply the teleological view of things is embedded in the nature of the Jew may be seen in the case of those of them who, like the Chassidim, pay no attention to the needs of practical life because "there is no purpose in them." There is no purpose in making a living, and so they let their wives and children starve, and devote themselves to the study of their sacred books.
When this attitude of mind that seeks for a purpose in all things is united with a strong will, with a large fund of energy (as is generally the case with the Jew), it ceases to be merely a point of view; it becomes a policy. The man sets himself a goal and makes for it, allowing nothing whatever to turn him aside from his course; he is determined, if you like, stiff-necked. Heine in characterizing his people called it stubbornness, and Goethe said that the essence of the Jewish character was energy and the pursuit of direct ends.