Max Weber was allied to the Neo-Kantian tradition in German thought rather than the Hegelian which were philosophers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who followed the teachings of Immanuel Kant. Kant saw that human beings as existing partly in the world of natural casualty and partly in realm freedom, governed by moral rules rather than causes. Weber also believed than physical nature is a realm of rigid, mechanical determination, while mental life is one of freedom and the absence of casualty. Generalities can be useful in the study of history and society as a whole as means t another end, as they help us to understand the individual case better. Weber believed that a generalizing approach to sociology was subordinate to history, as it provided abstract concepts, which could be useful in understanding complex, concrete individual cases. Concepts like these were created precisely for their usefulness in informing historical studies. Weber wrote two major essays which created controversial views to this day on politics and science as vocations, most noticeably the idea that science should be ‘value free’. For Weber the distinction between the scientific and the political was the recognition of a long standing philosophical distinction between facts and values – values are unable to be deduced from facts. Scientists can only report upon what happens and how things are, they cannot tell us how they should be, how we should live, or what we should do. The provision of research and evidence cannot relieve us of the necessity to make choices at the level of values. Scientific knowledge can be of value in politics but it cannot replace of substitute for politics itself. This is merely an illusion as politics entails struggle between values, not the facts of empirical knowledge. The ‘individual’ which captured Weber’s scientific interest was the capitalist civilization of the West. Weber’s...
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