THE SOCIAL CONTEXT Weber, like simmel, struggled to find a vantage point from which he could analyze society
with a maximum of objectivity, but the differed in thestratgy the pursued, which was largely determined by their dissimilar extential situation. Simmel attempted withdraw as much as possible from the political and social struggles of the day and reached objejtivity by taking. Advantage of this double marginality, as an outsider in the university. Some of the rootof suchvariant strategies my be found in the dis similar famly backgrounds of simmel and weber. Simmel, it will be reacalled, lost his father at an early age and hed reather cool relation with his mother. In contrast,Weber was deeply en meshed in his family relationships, tied by multiple bonds of emotion not only to his father and mother but to oter kinsmen,particularly his Strasbourg relatives. Such a strategy, however, took a serious tool of his psychic energies: it finally led to his breakdown when repressed antagonisms burst out in that final confrontation between father andson shortly before the father’s death weber pursued asimilar course in his involvement on a political scene,where repressive and antagonis forces were at least as pronounced as those that he had foud at home. THE FAMILY NETWORK “The bonds of kinship,” writes his biographer, Eduard Baumgarte, “within which the young and growing Mex Weber developed his capacities of empathy and selfprotection, formed an unusually close net. Throughout his life he remained truly within the net and yet learned, even as a child, to escape from its narrow meshes into the wider of adventure and wonder” Somewhat later, as a student, he attempted to overcome his tensions by dentifying with paternal authority and by adopt culture shared by his father.
One may assume from the relative emotional balance weber later achieved that during the course of his illness. and profesional problems. Usually. Weber’s devotion to this mother was probably “overdetermined. striving at the same time to maximize his objective understanding. while still attempting to retain an impartiality that characterizes wise counselor. of family indetifications and loyalties. THE PUBLIC SCENE Weber’s conduct on the public scene has a remarkable resemblance to his behavior in the private in the of smmel.” Apart from oedipal themes. with a political structure dominated by the scmifeudal values of Prussian conserauthoritarianism with a highly de veloped formal legalism. The working class was exclduded from political decision making. has called a “mandarin” style of life. though at time it was indulged economically through social welfare measure. one must consider that weber was the oldest son. the intellectual elite among the university professors cultivated what ringer. he would keep these variant personal prefences in check thorugh a severe self – denying ordinance that enjoined him to be value – neutral scholarly work. marital. but rather immersed himself deeply in public matters. he slowly arrived at an inner clarification of his confused tangle of personal relations and emotions. a modern elite among the university professors cultivated what ringer. As his work shows.
. The middle classes prospered economically while being politically subservient. a modern American historian of ideas. He was with all their personal. Weber’s conviction that as the oldest son he had assume family leader ship is evidenced by his desire to act as a quide and counsel to his younger siblings and other relatives. asupportive high – status friend on whom he could rely in his struggle against the uthority and the authoritarianism of his father. Weber’s germany had a highly developed industrial economy.This led weber to reject much of the paternal image and to again new uncle. however. he would pass from admiration for the virtues of aristocratic heroism.
they in fact supported the wilhelminian status quo Although weber’s early writing on the agricultural situation of east Elbia display. When he voted for the first tim.Most of them refused to immerse themselves in the struggles of the hour. he chose the conservatives. These are some of the preoccupations that characterize weber’s overall political thought. dominated the arena. Weber’s hatred of the incompetence of the nation’leaderships-his despairing vision that the civil servants. At the time of his famous freiburg inaugural address on “the national state and enomic policy” in which he urged his listeners to be guided by one standard only. the court. as mitzman. however. a number of internal inconsistencies. has shown. changed considerably over time. weber stood resolutely on the side of modernity and against those who whined and complained about the demise of the good old days. they are informed as awhole the power of the german nation and unassimlable decadence and to the enlarged influence of culturally unassimilable poles. although susceptible to the attractions of various ideological commitments and subject to the contrary pull of differing loyalties. During the war. As distinct from age in which the volk not economic interest groups. but this was precisely why he tried to avoid the domination (herrsschaft) of the bureaucracy. “the permanent power political interests of the nation. the junkers. Yet. This party was meant to represent thosemiddle-class forces that accepted the new regime and were willing to lay the foundation of a popular democracy opposed alike to tra ditionalistic conservatism of the right and to the revolutionary chiliasm of the left.” he had aiready lost hope in the conservatives and had come to se them as tools of the interests of the junkers. His concrete political stance.
. and he belonged for a few years to the reactionary and jingoistic Alldeutscher verband. a contemporary biographer of max weber. Weber was conviced that increasing rationalization and bureaucratization was unavoidable. and the army would lose the war and Germany’s wold chances forever –brought him closer to the radical opponents of the war. weber managed to maintain a measure of political and intelictual distance by never fully succumbing to the blandishments of them.
of legal scholars and of historians.to be sure. His sharp polimicand uncompromising stand in the sphere of scolarsip brought him many enemies. however.His political in terventions seemed to many mandarin academis infra dignitatium yet there were only few who. an academic outsider. weber was an outstanding member of the academy. By splitting himself. failed to recognize his talent. though not without a great deal of struggle. into a politically active and an observant self. which. This general consensus about the high quality of his accomplishment was by no means limited to the small circle of men who by then called themselves sociology. and to proceed to that “ideological demystification” to use Ernst To pitch’s phrase. those people to whom he related by virture of his role in the university was varied and complicated because his contributions touched upon the cancers of economists and philosophers. so to speak. Both before his breakdown and after. While Simmel’s advancement in the university hierarchy had been severely impeded-he became a full professor only at the end of his life and the only in a minor univercity-Weber very early was made a full professor in prestigious Freiburg University. In contrast to simmel. to do justice to both his active and contemplative temperaments and to reach intellectual mastery in the face of conflicting commitments. he criticized most sharply from the inside. wheter agreeing with him or not. Because of this great variety of role partners weber was able to attain a measure of detachment more readily than men who are bound only to one scholary audience or disciplinary circle. THE ACADEMIC MAN Weber’s academic Position allowed him to escape through value-natural analysis from the Babel of discordant voices that characterized the public scene. His academic role-set that is. he tried.In this way he achieved a distance from them that in many ways resembled the relative distance he had come to gain within his web of kinship. Weber was very much part of the academic scene. What Rose Laub Coser has remarked in regard to the mature individual generally seems to apply particulary to men like weber who manage to convert
. which characterizes much of his contribution to sociology in contrast.
The labored expositions. are writtenin a clear and muscular style-a limpid prose that reminds one of a Nietzsche or a Heine His memoranda to policy makers and his articles in the general press. economical. in the performance of this various roles. the qualify cations.His great public lectures. the sentences within sentences. would be pledged in common to the civilization of rational dialogue and the pursuit of an ever elusive truth. are likewise models of clear. • • • • • • That were developed through successive resolutions of conflicts with the expectations of various role-partners is the sociology counterpart to what Freud has called sublimation. and the long footnotes are the result of his painstaking effort to attain the maximum of precision and clarity and to indicate to his academic audience that he eschewed all striving for’’effect’’.a complicated and sometimes conflicting role-set into a special resource for objectivity and creativeness..
. His very high estimate of the academic calling also helps explain weber’s intensely critical attitude toward those professors who failed to achieve scien tific detachment or did not even strive for it. Here. the heavy style of weber’s academic writing is not due to any congenitial inability ti write simply. Role relation ships. and forceful exposition. rather than being a source of constraints as some will have it. thost on politics as a Vocation and on science as a Vacation. though concerned with different problems chosen in terms of differing values. white sometimes lacking the passionate intensity of his public address. It is the ability of the individual with a strong Ego make use of the accumulated resources developed in manifold patterned role relationships …. Clearly. Weber’s predorminant orientation toward an academic audience is illus-trated by the fact that almost all his work appeared in scholarly publications rather than in books accessibic to a wider circle of reardes. for when he addressed other audiences he wrote and spoke quite differently. scholars.”The ability to use inner resources’she writes. for example. provide the oppurnity for socially creative behavior.
. Weber was not always able to avoid the divergent pulls that this complicated position brought forth-a fact that helps account for some of his contradictory. Quite apart from the evolution of his political ideas. in his family life or in his political activites. statements. All this does not prevent him. He felt that q scholar who lacked detachment when he spoke from his academic chair abused his privilege and became a mystagogue and misleder of youth. to keep political concern balanced by his commitment to the ethos of scientific detachment. especially after the years of his illness. A realistic assessment of political neccessitas compulision is required for any responsible political actor if he is to be at all effective.In his scholary work. or apparenty contradictory. Weber always sought to attain in a balance of detachement and concern. as thew contemplates the bloody course of history. Weber attempted. from pronouncing the moral judgment that the whole world of power and of politics is the domain of the devil.