Max Weber and Karl Marx

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

Chapter 1

Introduction

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Like our actual society, which it studies, social science is not unified but divided in two: bourgeois sociology and Marxism. The most important representatives of these two lines of inquiry are Max Weber and Karl Marx. But the sphere of their investigations is one and the same: the ‘capitalist’ organisation of a modern economy and society. This common problem is becoming increasingly apparent in recent sociological investigations. 1 This field of inquiry became a problem, and indeed a fundamental problem, not only because it comprises a specific problematic of economy and society demanding separate treatment, but primarily because this theme involves contemporary man in the whole of his humanity as the fundamental basis of both social and economic questions.

Only because it is in man as such that the problematic nature of the bourgeois-capitalist social and economic system develops and manifests itself can ‘capitalism’ itself be grasped in its fundamental significance and made the object of an inquiry within the realm of social philosophy. Since it is necessarily man whose mode of humanity is revealed in the forms of the social and economic conditions of life, a thematically more or less separate analysis of capitalist ‘economy and society’, i.e. the capitalist ‘process of production’, will be explicitly or implicitly based on a certain view of the human being who is economically active in this form rather than any other. As a critical analysis of human economy and society, such an inquiry will at the same time be guided by an ‘idea’ of man, which is distinct from the factual situation. One must ultimately refer

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