Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 127–149 | Cite as

The ‘Deconversion’ of Arthur Koestler: A Study in Cognitive Dissonance

  • Motti Inbari


This article examines how the journalist and novelist Arthur Koestler (1905–1983), Hungarian-born Jew and a convert to Communism, became disillusioned by his messianic beliefs and decided to exit, resigning from the party in 1938. In order to review Koestler’s narrative, based mostly on his autobiography, the research behind this article uses psychological theories on the consequences of prophetic failure and the influence of cognitive dissonance on disillusionment and the abandonment of a belief system. Reflecting on the biography of Koestler, the research can offer some understanding of circumstances that can push a prophetic believer to renounce his faith.


Arthur Koestler Cognitive dissonance Deconversion Communism 



I want to thank Shalom Goldman for suggesting this topic for me to research. I also want to thank Malachi Hacohen, Shaul Vardi and the anonymous readers for their comments and assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionUNC PembrokePembrokeUSA

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