The Vocation Lectures
Written by Max Weber
This books consists of two speeches delivered in Munich by German sociologist and political economist Max Weber: "Science as a Vocation" given in 1917, and "Politics as a Vocation" which was delivered in January 1919. Weber defines the state as the institution in any society with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Following this definition, Weber notes that there are three principles justifying the legitimacy of political domination of the state: traditional authority, charismatic authority, and legal authority. Weber draws on comparative historical research to describes the relationship between politicians, political parties, and the bureaucracies they create. The Ethic of Moral Conviction refers to the core unshakeable beliefs that a politician must hold. The Ethic of Responsibility refers to the day-to-day need to use the means of the state’s violence in a fashion which preserves the peace for the greater good. A politician, Weber writes, must make compromises between these two ethics."Politics is made with the head, not with the other parts of body, nor the soul". The most effective politician is one who can excite the emotions of the people who follow, while governing strictly with a cold hard reason—the head. Weber writes that vanity creates unique problems for politicians because they do indeed control the tools of legitimate violence. Politicians are tempted to make decisions based on emotional attachments to followers and sycophants, and not on the rational reasoning needed to govern justly and effectively. The practice of politics is difficult, and not a task for someone who seeks salvation for their eternal soul through the practice of peace and brotherhood. In the concluding sentences of the essay, Weber comments on the German Revolution of 1919 which was underway when he wrote the essay. He gloomily predicts that the emotional excitement of the moment in 1919 will bring only “polar nights with an icy darkness and harshness, no matter what group will successfully seize power at present”. In Science as a Vocation, Weber weighed the benefits and detriments of choosing a career as an academic at a university who studies science or humanities. Weber compares the nature of an artist's work to that of a scientist. He argues that the artist's work can reach fulfillment; the scientist's work, on the other hand, by its very nature, is designed to be surpassed. Weber reasons that science can never answer the fundamental questions of life, such as directing people on how to live their lives and what to value. Weber also separates fact from value in politics. He argues that a teacher should impart knowledge to students and teach them how to clarify issues logically – even political issues – but teachers should never use the classroom to indoctrinate or preach their personal political views. Weber also makes some practical comments about research and teaching. He notes that good scholars can be poor teachers, and that qualities that make one a good scholar, or a good thinker, are not necessarily the same qualities that make for good leaders or role models. -Adapted from Wikipedia
Thank you to Sarah K. in Minnesota for suggesting this book!
Thank you to The Weizmann Institute of Science
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