Max Weber and Karl Marx

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

Chapter 2

Weber’s interpretation of the bourgeois-capitalist world in terms of ‘rationalisation’

THE STARTING POINT OF WEBER’S RESEARCH


Truth in the turmoil of the bewitched
Who learn it only to exchange it
For new beliefs or to dismember it…
Truth without respite on worn-out pillows
Without chewing again the finished fragments…
Truth which lays bare even dignity,
Struggling to carry on your shoulders every burden
Of the displaced idols and the contents
Of the hollowed-out firmament and of hell,
This truth you bore out of the ground through a thousand doors,
A leader free from the falsehoods to which others are drawn. 1

The field, specifically ‘worthy of being known’, in which Weber’s investigations move, is basically a single one. It is not this or that particular fact, nor the ‘general cultural significance’ of capitalism. This field, whose scholarly investigation was Weber’s aim in the midst of all his methodological considerations and his wide-ranging substantive investigations, was the following: ‘The social science we wish to pursue is a science of reality (Wirklichkeitswissenschaft). We wish to comprehend in its specific quality the reality of the life which surrounds us and into which we are placed—the interrelation and cultural meaning of its individual phenomena in their contemporary form as well as the causes of their having developed in the way they have.’ 2 In consequence, it is not the purpose of historical investigation to find out how it was (as in Ranke), 3

-51-

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