Jewish Science 101

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Social Sciences

Jews were prominently involved in the creation of the modern fields of psychology, sociology, and anthropology.  Nearly all the members of the Gestalt school of psychology were Jewish, as was the father of modern psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. While many of these psychologists led secular lives, Jewish texts, traditions, and values--such as Talmudic ideas about the good and evil inclinations--continued to impact their work.

Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber--all Jews--were among the first sociologists of religion. Each had powerful critiques on the role of religion in industrial society (Marx famously called it the "opium of the people") and questioned its relevance for modern man.

Emile Durkheim also contributed to the founding of anthropology. His students included Marcel Mauss, a Jewish scholar who researched non-native cultures. Mauss trained Claude Levi-Strauss, a French Jew from long line of rabbis who developed the theory of Structuralism. In America, German Jewish immigrant Franz Boas founded the first department of anthropology at Columbia University. Today, modern ethnographies of the Jewish community include studies of the Habad movement, memorialization of the Holocaust, and examinations of Jewish texts and practice.

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