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Joachim Wachs Bild vom George-Kreis und seine Revision von Max Webers Soziologie religiöser Gemeinschaften

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image of Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte

Since the publication of the In Memoriam of Stefan George in “Understanding and Believing. Essays by Jochim Wach edited by Joseph Kitagawa” (1968), the George-circle is seen as a major source for Wach's understanding of religion. According to the author nature is not a realm of abstract laws but the place where the divine reveals itself in the physical. Yet the In Memoriam was not composed by Wach, but by Gerardus van der Leeuw in 1934 and happend, by chance, to find its way among the posthumous papers of Wach. From other statements we know that Wach rejected pagan conceptions of the epiphany of the divine. Nevertheless there exists an impact of the George-circle on Wach's sociology of religion. He was an early reader of Max Webers “Sociology of Religion (Types of Religious Communities)” (1921/22), in which Weber chose as perspective a growing disenchantment of the world. Wach adopted the typology, but rejected Weber's systematics. The reason can be found in his essay on the relationship between Master and Disciple from 1925. Here he analyzed the George-circle as a case in point that the charisma of a master possesses a metaphysical quality that is resistant against the power of disenchantment. In contrast to Weber who correlated the varieties of religious communities with social conditions, Wach studied them as variations of genuine religious expressions.


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