Introduction to "The Cambridge Companion to Weber"

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Max Weber is widely regarded as the greatest figure in the history of the social sciences, and like Karl Marx or Adam Smith, who might be regarded as rivals to this title, Weber was much more than a disciplinary scholar. There is a demotic Weber, whose ideas have passed into common currency; a students' Weber, who is a founding figure of sociology or the theorist of modernity; a scholar's Weber, who is the creator of core ideas that have influenced the development of various specialties and whose specialized writings are is still debated within these specialties; a canonical “Weber ” who is the subject of a scholarly industry, and, so to speak, a “deep ” Weber, who has been the subject of the serious and continued reflection of several of the greatest intellectual figures of the century. Unlike Smith and Marx, there is no “ideological Weber ”: no one has turned Weber's thought directly into a political world view and set of policy recipes for the consumption of the general public. But there is a very important “political Weber ” whose account of the morality of political life has influenced many politicians and political thinkers and remain central to questions about the nature of political responsibility.

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Introduction to "The Cambridge Companion to Weber", in S. P. Turner (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Weber, Cambridge University Press, p. 1-18