Max Weber’s Methodology as Political Theory

tekijä: Arja Leena Anitta Valkonen Viimeisin muutos tiistai 26. marraskuuta 2013, 12.29

The idea of the course is a political reading of Max Weber’s ‘methodological’ writings, mainly those collected in German in Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre (6. Auflage, Hg. Johannes Winkelmann, Tübingen Mohr 1988; or,+Max/Schriften+zur+Wissenschaftslehre) or in English (Collected Methodological Writings, London: Routledge 2012, paperback edition 2013, edited by Hans Henrik Bruun and Sam Whimster, translated by Hans Henrik Bruun).

VALS 330 – one 10-15 page essay on some of Weber’s own writings, as convened with the examinator

VALS 340 – one 10-15 page essay applying Weberian methodological principles to the analysis of some politics-related scholarly text or political debate.

Background reading;

Pertti Ahonen & Kari Palonen eds. Disembalming Max Weber, Jyväskylä: SoPhi 1999.

Kari Palonen, Max Weber’s Rhetoric of ‘Objectivity’. Max Weber Studies 10, 71-93

(to be distributed to the course participants)

The guiding idea of the lectures is that Max Weber’s theory of knowledge and of the research process as a human activity is interconnected with his political thought. The key ideas of through contingency, contestablity of every point of view and the great heuristic value of controversies are phenomena that shape Weber’s views on human action (Handeln) and the relationships between actions. Such view is most explicit in Weber’s thought on politics, but by closer examination concerns as well his theory of knowledge and the practice of human sciences. The activity of the scholar can be read as a simpliefied version of that of the politician, and especially the (British) parliamentary procedure with its regulative idea of fair play can serve also as a model for for debating scholarly controversies.

This perspective offers a fresh perspective for a political reading Weber’s methodological writings. I have so far practised this reading primarily regarding his famous essay on ”Objectivity” from 1904 (KP, ”Objektivität” als faires Spiel. Wissenschaft als Politik bei Max Weber, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2010, s. also the English article in Max Weber Studies). The aim of the lecture series is to expand this political reading to a number of other methodological writings of Weber. Weber‘s academic discipline for the most part of the time was political economy (Nationalökonomie), but I am planning to leave to the background those essays closely related to the debates of the economists.

Preliminary content

21.1.  Introduction:  Dethroning sociology in favour of history and political theory in the Weber scholarship since 1980s. Reading methodological essays as part of Weber’s political theory?

28.1. Der Nationalstaat und die Volkswirtschaftspolitik (1895) - Value freedom and value relation – part I (,+Max/Schriften+zur+Politik/Der+Nationalstaat+und+die+Volkswirtschaftspolitik, or  Political Writings, edited by Peter Lassman & Ronald Speirs, Cambridge UP 1994, p. 1-28)

30.1. – ”Objektivität” (1904) I – Human sciences as controversial in principle

4.2 – ”Objektivität” (1904) II – Perspectivism, ideal type, conceptual change

6.2.. – Kritische Studien (1906) ”Objective possibility”, Chance and historical research

11.2. – Kategorien (1913) I – methdological nominalism against collective consepts

13.2 – Kategorien (1913) II  – understanding and explanation à la Weber

18.2. – Wertfreiheit (1917) I – critique of evolution and progress

20.2. – Wertfreiheit (1917) II – value freedom and value relation II

25.2. – Wissenschaft als Beruf (1917/1919 – the struggle of the gods in the academia

27.2. – Parlament und Regierung im neugeordneten Deutschland, Teil III ­ Bureaucratic knowledge and its parliamentary control,+Max/Schriften+zur+Politik/Parlament+und+Regierung+im+neugeordneten+Deutschland/III.+Verwaltungsöffentlichkeit+und+Auslese+der+politischen+Führer, parts II and III),  or  Political Writings, edited by Peter Lassman & Ronald Speirs, Cambridge UP 1994, p. 177-196)

4.3. – Conclusion: Weber’s ‘parliamentary’ theory of knowledge as vision of politics