Emotional reason: The Israeli scientific mind facing a German cultural mirror

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Scientists often surmise that scientific thought is a universal faculty akin to Kant’s description of “pure reason.” The conventional view insists that science should censor the passions and bar the intrusion of emotional and subconscious motives into scientific work. This article challenges this truism by showing that the split between reason and emotions is rather culturally mediated. Using interviews with 125 Israeli scientists who had collaborated with German colleagues, the study allowed respondents to compare their scientific practices and intellectual styles with those of their German compatriots. The results suggest that in contrast to their sober and uber-rational German colleagues, Israeli scientists’ intellectual style can be described as fiery, enflamed, and passionate. Indeed, they often spoke of “love” and “desire” as central elements that drive innovation and creativity in scientific discovery. Their minds, they implied, function through emotional reason.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)437-453
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Cultural sociology
  • Israel and Germany
  • intellectual styles
  • interviews
  • qualitative analysis
  • science studies

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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