Max Weber and the Destiny of Reason

Max Weber and the Destiny of Reason

Max Weber and the Destiny of Reason

Max Weber and the Destiny of Reason

Excerpt

I dedicate this book to the memory of Cesare Pavese and that of Felice Balbo, to discharge a debt. In 1946 it was Pavese who gave me Thorstein Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class so that I could work on the Italian translation (after Vittorio Foa and Antonio Giolitti had declined). The translation was published by Einaudi early in 1949, and immediately Benedetto Croce's attack appeared in the Corriere della Sera of January 15. Naturally, there was a polemical exchange in Critica economica and other journals, and Pavese persuaded me to participate with two articles in the Rivista di filosofia. Nevertheless, the arguments and polemics of late idealism had already ceased to be of interest to me.

I had other things to think about, for Pavese, with a certain amount of unconscious cruelty, seemed to amuse himself by getting me worked up. From the time of our walks in the hills of Serralunga di Crea, in Monferrato, in the last years of the war (when we amazed the German soldiers on patrol by reading at the tops of our voices the "Chorus mysticus" from Faust: "Alles Vergängliche — ist nur ein Gleichnis... Das Ewig-Weibliche — zieht uns hinan"), questions of sociology, cultural anthropology, and social psychology became part of our standard hiking gear. We were two inspired discoverers of new sciences.

The breadth of Pavese's knowledge and interests fascinated me. Besides the "comfortable" or "easy" class, as we later decided to translate Veblen's "leisure class," we talked about Frazer's "golden bough," Reik's studies of ritual, Marx and Weber, and the fragility of human rationality and the meaning of myth as the dawning of consciousness. Later Pavese persuaded me to translate the psychoanalytical interpretations of the rites of primitive peoples put forward by Theodor Reik, Freud's great disciple and "reformer." In August 1948, when I was in England, he wrote about . . .

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