Last Updated 11 Nov 2022

Analysis of Science as a Vocation, lecture/essay by Max Weber

Category Max Weber
Words 561 (2 pages)

Weber uncovers some harsh truths about academic scientific existence and how it affects our lives. about how it affects our lives. He talks about how universities favor lecturers who can draw a crowd, about the deplorable tendency for mediocrity in the academic aristocracy, and about the luck needed to advance in the ranks. He talks about the growing specialization of science and how discoveries made now are doomed to obsolescence. He uses Plato's analogy of people confined to a wall behind which the light - the sun of truth of science - burns.

It is the philosopher who breaks free and demonstrates to others that it is to this light that one should strive for true being. However, if the truth of science is constantly overlapped by new verities as the old ones become obsolete (or out of fashion), then what should we believe as the final truth? He says that it is thought necessary to put on blinkers to specialize and how this a detriment to science as a whole. He instead encourages scientists to have passion in their work whatever it is for nothing is worth anything to a man, as a man if he cannot do it with passion. He talks with disgust about those who believe that science is all intellect and no soul and shows the parallel between art and math's and how inspiration favors both in the same way - through long hours of work and sometimes not even then.

He makes a correlation between the progress of civilization and scientific discoveries and the continuous stream of discoveries (due to the obsoletion of previous ideas) being essential to development. However, he does see that this very advancement leads to the death of magic and the intellectualization of our perception of the world. Weber goes on to say that this lack of mystery makes us less likely to be satisfied or gain pleasure in our lives. We can see this theme also in Civilization and its discontents where Freud asks with all these things (technology, etc.), why are we still unhappy.

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When Weber begins to discuss politics as a science is where I find a pertinent point. Lecturers must keep personal politics out of the science of politics, offering each alternative model on its own merits and detriments. He points out that in lecture situations it is too easy for the teacher to impose their views on the class because there is no discussion, no questioning allowed. Personal politics should be practiced in the party room. Weber only briefly describes how studying politics as a science can be useful, that is by using an empirical method of deducing the best models from all the options.

However, I think the most useful aspect of studying political science is learning the art of reading and the skill of obtaining the authors thoughts and motivations within what is written piece. The science of politics is also the art of questions and arguments but not just for the purposes of persuasion and manipulation - for the benefit of society as a whole. Weber asserts that the goal of the scientist is to work in the hope that others will get further than we do so surely, by studying philosophy and politics, being that person who turns those chained around to see the light, we are aiding the progress of society with the science of politics.

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