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Skepticism and Faith: Max Weber's Anti-Utopianism in the Eyes of his Contemporaries

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 71, Number 3, July 2010
pp. 481-503 | 10.1353/jhi.0.0081



This article elucidates an important reason for Max Weber's popularity among German intellectuals during the Weimar Republic: for different interpreters, Weber's anti-utopianism came to signify radically different attitudes towards the modern world. My aim is to construct an original typology of these interpretations and, in the process, to explain why Weber was able to make such divergent impressions. His reception provides a case study for understanding how a philosopher's impact is determined not just by the interpretation of published texts, but also by the tension that exists between these texts and the author's personality.