Max Weber and Karl Marx

By Karl Löwith; Bryan S. Turner | Go to book overview

Preface to the new edition of Karl Löwith’s Max Weber and Karl Marx

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Bryan S. Turner

Modern man has forgotten to listen to this silence. Our world becomes increasingly loud, noisy—deafening with noise. We can no longer hear and our words have become false.

Karl Löwith


INTRODUCTION

Sociology has, since its institutional foundation in the late nine-teenth century, been subject to profound changes in paradigms and perspectives. Many of these conceptual revolutions have challenged the fundamental assumptions of their discipline by, for example, bringing into question the whole idea of ‘the social’ (Baudrillard 1983). While the history of all academic disciplines can be written in terms of violent paradigmatic shifts (Kuhn 1970), sociology appears more prone than most subjects to bewildering shifts in intellectual terrain. One can either regard this analytical instability in a negative fashion as indicating the lack of maturity of sociology as a social science, or one can see sociology as a disciplinary field which is acutely in tune with the broad sweep of cultural movements within modern societies. The swings and changes in analytical paradigms are thus a response to broader societal currents.

However, within this context of intellectual uncertainty, one relatively persistent dimension of sociology has been its unresolved and critical relationship to the legacy of Karl Marx. More precisely, the debate over the relationship between Marx’s political economy and Max Weber’s interpretative sociology, which has raged with varying degrees of intensity since the

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