Max Weber and political theology of Friedrich Naumann

Cover Page

Cite item


In the Weberian literature, it has been repeatedly noted that there is no serious theological interest in the most important provisions of the sociology of religion by Max Weber. This seems paradoxical given the religious-theological context for the development of Weber’s intellectual project of the social-theoretical hermeneutics of Western modernity. In the first part of the article, the author reconstructs the family and friends’ religious constellation which determined Weber’s understanding of the existential significance of religious meanings for certain groups of the modern era. The author mentions Weber’s close ties with a number of leading theologians of Germany in the late 19th - early 20th centuries, which influenced the heuristics of his writings. The second part of the article focuses on the multifaceted figure of Friedrich Naumann, a public intellectual, who was a Protestant pastor and a reactionary-conservative theologian and became a spiritual-political leader of the German left liberals. The author shows the initial ambivalence of the political-religious situation in the German Empire in the 1880s-1890s, in which Naumann tried to combine Christianity and socialism, and provides a brief overview of the young theologian and social activist’s gradual turning into a prominent figure of the German journalism and politics. In the third part of the article, the author describes the meeting of two thinkers as fateful for both Weber and Naumann, and emphasizes a radical turn in the worldview of the famous religious theorist and practitioner, who under the powerful influence of Weber’s personality and argumentation gave up both many previous ideas and pastor’s office. In conclusion, the author identifies the paradigmatic nature of Nauman’s ideological-political evolution as typical for a significant part of German intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century, and considers Naumann’s Hegelian acceptance of the modern nation-state as the highest value (following Weber) as a self-fulfilling diagnosis for the crisis modernity on the eve of the First World War catastrophe.

About the authors

O. V. Kildyushov

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Author for correspondence.

научный сотрудник Центра фундаментальной социологии

Myasnitskaya St., 20, Moscow, 101000, Russia


  1. Davydov Yu.N. Max Weber i sovremennaya teoreticheskaya sotsiologiya: Aktualnye problemy veberovskogo sotsiologicheskogo ucheniya [Max Weber and Contemporary Theoretical Sociology: Topical Issues of Weber’s Sociological Doctrine]. Moscow; 1998. (In Russ.).
  2. Weber M. Zhizn i tvorchestvo Maxsa Webera [Life and Work of Max Weber]. Moscow; 2007. (In Russ.).
  3. Kaube J. Max Weber: zhizn na rubezhe vekov [Max Weber: Life at the Turn of the Century]. Moscow; 2007. (In Russ.).
  4. Naumann F. Demokratiya i imperstvo [Democracy and Imperialism]. Moscow; 1906. (In Russ.).
  5. Naumann F. Sredinnaya Evropa [Middle Europe]. Moscow; 1918. (In Russ.).
  6. Tenbruck F. Glavny trud Maxsa Webera [The key work of Max Weber]. Russian Socioligical Review. 2020; 2. (In Russ).
  7. Heuss Th. Das war Friedrich Naumann. Berlin-Wien; 1974.
  8. Heuss Th. Max Weber in seiner Gegenwart. Weber M. Gesammelte Politische Schriften. 3. Aufl. Tübingen; 1971.
  9. Hübinger G. Max Weber: Stationen und Impulse einer intellektuellen Biographie. Tübingen; 2019.
  10. Jellinek G. Die Erklärung der Menschen- und Bürgerrechte: Ein Beitrag zur modernen Verfassungsgeschichte. Leipzig; 1895 (Berlin; 2016).
  11. Lepsius M.R. Max Weber und seine Kreise: Essays. Tübingen; 2016.
  12. Lindt A. Friedrich Naumann und Max Weber. Theologie und Soziologie im wilhelminischen Deutschland. München; 1973.
  13. Mommsen W. J. Max Weber und die deutsche Politik 1890-1920. Tübingen; 1959.
  14. Müller H.-P. Max Weber. Eine Spurensuche. Berlin; 2020.
  15. Naumann F. Erinnerung an Bebel. Die Hilfe. 1913; 34.
  16. Naumann F. Werke, Band 1: Religiöse Schriften. Opladen-Köln; 1964.
  17. Naumann F. Werke. Band 5: Schriften zur Tagespolitik. Opladen-Köln; 1967.
  18. Nürnberger R. Imperialismus, Sozialismus und Christentum bei Friedrich Naumann. Historische Zeitschrift. 1950; 3.
  19. Panzer M. Der Einfluss Max Webers auf Friedrich Naumann. Ein Bild der liberalen Gesellschaft in der Wilhelminischen und Nachwilhelminischen Ära (Neue Wurzburger Studien zur Soziologie, Band 3). Würzburg; 1986.
  20. Schluchter W. Max Webers späte Soziologie. Tübingen; 2019.
  21. Theiner P. Sozialer Liberalismus und deutsche Weltpolitik: Friedrich Naumann im Wilhelminischen Deutschland (1860-1919). Baden-Baden; 1983.
  22. Treiber H. Der ‚Eranos’ - Das Glanzstück im Heidelberger Mythenkranz? W. Schluchter, F.-W. Graf (Eds.). Asketischer Protestantismus und der ‘Geist’ des modernen Kapitalismus. Max Weber und Ernst Troeltsch. Tübingen; 2005.
  23. Weber M. Brief vom 15.10.1896. Mommsen W. Max Weber und die deutsche Politik 1890-1920. Tübingen; 1959.
  24. Weber M. Brief an Helene Weber vom 2 und 3 Mai 1882. MWG. II/1.

Copyright (c) 2021 Kildyushov O.V.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies