Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

“Solidarity” and “Truth” in the work of the Jewish Author and Poet Jacob Israël de Haan (1881-1924)

How De Haan is using language in general and his specific style of language in particular to provide truth, solidarity and justice for both the individual and the collective?

2013 - 2018
Frans Willem Korsten

During his whole life De Haan is seeking for ways to realize justice by truth-telling. I would like to investigate if there is a repeated pattern in his texts with which he is writing the (his) truth. In other words: is he creating specific figures with which he is searching for justice? And in what manner he would like those figures to tell the truth? In his work Pathologieën (1908) I read the ‘Parrehesiast’, according to Michel Foucault (in short: telling the truth no matter what the consequences might be, in the context of the care of the self/homosexuality) and in his work In Russische Gevangenissen (1913) I read the ‘Liberal Ironist’, according to Richard Rorty (in short: telling the truth when it is convenient, in the context of the care of the collective/the fate of political prisoners).

In this process of searching for truth, “language” is playing a crucial role: since, it is by language only that one can learn the truth. But, is there a ‘pure’ language available in which one could tell The Truth? In his dissertation Rechtskundige Significa (1916) De Haan stands up for language in all her aspects as the ultimate means of expression. I would like to use his philosophy of language in my dissertation.

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