By Martin Albrow
A research of the paintings of German sociologist, Max Weber, together with a short biography and an exploration in Weberian social concept.
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Extra resources for Max Weber’s Construction of Social Theory
How does one combine the idea that everything is caused with the belief that the human will is free? If no one else can tell me how to act, how should I act? If I am free, why should I not do entirely as the whim takes me? If I am part of an ephemeral world of pain and pleasure, how can I also be part of an eternal world of the spirit? Perhaps for the ordinary person in Christian countries in the late twentieth century these are no longer obvious question. Outside the Christian tradition they have rarely surfaced and never in this precise combination.
It was rooted in Protestantism and expressed a radical individualism. It was a lynch-pin idea both for Kant and his followers and has been vehemently defended. A vivid illustration of this is provided by Norbert Elias in his reminiscences of his early career. He recounts how an intimate relationship with his highly-respected teacher Richard Honigswald ended in a violent quarrel when he presented his doctoral thesis to him. Elias had come to the conclusion that everything which Kant considered prior to experience, whether the idea of causality or the moral laws, 'had necessarily to be learnt from other human beings together with the appropriate vocabulary if it was to be present in the consciousness of the individual human being' (1984: 19).
It is offered as a statement aspiring to truth, it applies to the world and the people in it; it applies to the author too. ). The terms 'meaning' (Sinn) and 'meaningful' (sinnvoll) are pivotal concepts in the whole of Weber's work. This passage revolves around them. They are developed right at the beginning of the compendium of fundamental sociological concepts which Weber completed towards the end of his life. There they appear as detached, even arid, sets of definitions and fine distinctions.