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The Phenomenology of the Social World
1 ascribing meaning to the world on the basis of ideas of value: culture itself is a value concept. Any possibility of cultural essentialism or of reducing cultures to supposed biological or racial substrata is ruled out. At the same time Weber precludes the possibility of totalizing historical-cultural sciences and thereby denying their anthropological premises. 3. The genealogy of the West is traced by Weber to the logic of the relationship between ideas and interests: «Not ideas, but<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/idcowgqwo5dfni44xsejtpnigm">fatcat:idcowgqwo5dfni44xsejtpnigm</a> </span>
more »... and ideal interests, directly govern men's conduct. Yet very frequently the "world images" that have been created by "ideas" have, like switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the dynamic of interest». The cultural significance of modern capitalism as «the most fateful force in our modern life» becomes the primary object of Weber's inquiry. The West is thereby seen as an epistemic and systemic space capable of defining the criteria of capitalist rationalization itself. In this respect, Weber's American experience -his ambivalent fascination with Taylorist capitalismwas of great importance. As a preliminary, however, it must be stressed that Weber is concerned to bring out the peculiar features of the Western experience (nur im Okzident...) from the vantage point of cultural comparativism. This means that for Weber the concept of "the West" is more the expression of the failure and impossibility of cultural universalism than of hegemonic universalism (see the essays by R.A. Antonio and Sven Eliaeson). Two things need to be emphasized here: on the one hand the West has its roots in a process of religious rationalization of world images that derives from an experience of the ethical irrationality of the world, and hence from the idea of conferring meaning on that which lacks it, from a theocentric, dualistic standpoint (the "rejection of the world"). On the other hand the life orders stemming from the "disenchantment of the world" then develop autonomous norms (political, economic, aesthetic, scientific) that bring them into collision with the unitary rational ethic from which they arose, confining religion to the irrational and imprisoning individuals in the "iron cage" of a new servitude. The unifying vector of this process is technical-scientific rationalization, which -above and beyond the specific normative features of each order -permeates every aspect of society. This sequence is clearly traced by Weber in the Ethic, where he writes that «the Puritan wanted to work in a vocation; we must do so». But it is also clearly shown in his sociology of power, which starts from the link between the duty of free obedience to a personal command (Gehorsampflicht) and discipline as the blind acceptance of an impersonal commanding apparatus. The problem is thus the ethical and cognitive dispossession of individuals (the "savage" knows more of his environment than civilized man) that is final outcome of the intellectualizing of the world and the disciplining of society by a capitalist domination capable of working even in the absence of "spirit". 2 3 4 ble of endowing empty discipline with meaning; but, in the terms of his bourgeois political realism, this also means establishing a criterion for the personal political management of bureaucratic apparatuses in both political and capitalist enterprises. In this way Weber tests the validity of the categories of interpretative sociology in the political sphere, thereby bringing together science and politics (see the essay by Kari Palonen). There is no doubt that Weber shared one thing with us: the obsession that Nietzsche's vision of the "last men", «specialists without spirit, hedonists without hearts» might turn out to be the epitome of the anthropological make-up of homo democraticus. ABSTRACT Only a few writers have attempted to construct a comprehensive philosophy of social science, and of these Weber is the most relevant to the present. The structure of his conception places him in a close relationship to Donald Davidson. The basic reasoning of Davidson on action explanation, anomalous monism, and the impossibility of a "serious science" of psychology is paralleled in Weber. There are apparent differences with respect to their treatment of the status of the model of rational action and the problem of other cultures, as well as the problem of the objectivity of values, but on examination, these turn out to be less dramatic. Weber's use of the notion of ideal-types, though it is not paralleled as directly in Davidson, allows him to make parallel conclusions about the relation of truth and interpretation: both make the problem of intelligibility rather than correspondence with some sort of external reality central, and each addresses, though in different ways, the dependence of considerations of intelligibility on normativity and the impossibility of a theory of meaning without idealization.
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