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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although Max Weber did not comment extensively or systematically on the literary, visual, and plastic arts, several key statements allow us to reconstruct his views on the rationalization of the aesthetic sphere against the backdrop of the development of Western culture more generally. This chapter outlines this argument with reference to his remarks on art, literature, and cultural life in published writings, speeches, and private correspondence. His allusions to and discussions of specific art historians, cultural critics, cultural movements, artworks, and artists—from Rembrandt and Milton to Stefan George and Leo Tolstoy, for instance—are considered in light of his ideas on the directions of rationalization and their implications for intellectual work (including his own) as itself a kind of cultural practice. Weber’s concern with many dimensions of the rationalization of occidental culture, and of aesthetic culture in particular, has been taken up by later thinkers and has lessons for how we think of the directions of rationalization today.

Keywords: rationality, rationalization, art, aesthetics, literature, painting

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