Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia has been a profoundly provocative book. The debate about politics and social knowledge that was spawned by its original publication in 1929 attracted the most promising younger scholars, some of whom shaped the thought of several generations. The book became a focus for a debate on the methodological and epistemological problems confronting German social science. More than thirty major papers were published in response to Mannheim’s text. Writers such as Hannah Arendt, Ernst Robert Curtius, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Helmuth Plessner, Hans Speier and Paul Tillich were among the contributors. Their positions varied from seeing in the sociology of knowledge a sophisticated reformulation of the materialist conception of history to linking its popularity to a betrayal of Marxism. The English publication in 1936 defined formative issues for two generations of sociological self-reflection. Knowledge and Politics provides an introduction to the dispute and reproduces the leading contributions. It sheds new light on one of the greatest controversies that have marked German social science in the past hundred years.
Part 1. Introduction 1. On the Sociology of Knowledge Dispute Volker Meja and Nico Stehr Part 2. The Sociology of Knowledge: Early Statements 2. The Sociology of Knowledge: Formal and Material Problems Max Scheler 3. The Ideological and Sociological Interpretation of Intellectual Phenomena Karl Mannheim Part 3. The Sociology of Knowledge Dispute 4. Competition as a Cultural Phenomenon Karl Mannheim 5. Discussion of Karl Mannheim’s ‘Competition’ Paper at the Sixth Congress of German Sociologists (Zurich, 1928) Alfred Weber, Werner Sombart, Robert Wilbrandt, Emil Lederer, Adolph Lowe, Alfred Meusel, Norbert Elias, Hans Jonas, Paul Eppstein. Summary statement by Karl Mannheim. 6. On Ideology and Utopia Paul Tillich 7. Sociology – and its Limits Ernst Robert Curtius 8. Problems of Sociology in Germany Karl Mannheim 9. The Sociological method and the Problem of Truth Herbert Marcuse 10. A New Concept of Ideology? Max Horkheimer 11. The Sociology of Knowledge and Marxism Ernst Lewalter 12. On the So-Called ‘Existential Connectedness’ of Consciousness Gunther Anders 13. Philosophy and Sociology Hannah Arendt 14. Sociology or Ideology? Hans Speier 15. Knowledge and Society Karl August Wittfogel 16. Ideology and Science Eduard Spranger 17. The Conception of Ideology and Its Vicissitudes Helmuth Plessner 18. The Sociology of Knowledge and Epistemology Ernst Grunwald 19. The Sociology of Knowledge and Methodology Alexander von Schelting Part 4. Epilogue 20. Relativism and the Sociology of Knowledge Nico Stehr and Volker Meja